About 70 per cent of Rwanda’s population is aged 30 years and below, making the post-Genocide generation by far the largest demographic group. The Government of Rwanda has invested in nurturing, empowering and involving the youth in its different programs, giving them exposure and the tools necessary to succeed. As the country joins the world to celebrate International Youth Day (IYD), a platform is raised to look at what still needs to be done to have more empowered youth ready to gear it towards sustainable development. The International Youth Day usually falls on August 12, and is dedicated to the role young women and men play in bringing change in tackling global issues and achieving sustainable development. It also serves as an opportunity to raise awareness on challenges and problems facing the worlds youth. According to Alodie Iradukunda, National Youth Coordinator, a lot has been done to empower youth in Rwanda, but there is still a need to escalate efforts to the village level. “We need to go down there and approach youth. They need to feel empowered enough so that they can be more involved and even invite their fellows to participate in different community activities. That’s what we are working on but need to enforce,” she said. She noted that in their training and capacity building programs, they focus on empowering the youth to find solutions within themselves. “If you identify a problem in your community, think about what you can do about it. If you start, people will notice what you are doing and that’ll be your starting point to ask for support. We, youth, are the ones to decide for ourselves because we know the situation we live in and the challenges we face,” she said. She thanked youth for what they have done so far and urged them to find information and use opportunities that are available for them, declaring that its their responsibility. Eric Bayisenge, Secretary General of Youth Volunteers in Rwanda, is also aware that youth have been empowered in various areas but more efforts are still needed to be put into empowering them economically. “We shall start thinking on how youth shall start saving money and coming together. For example, we still have an issue with food on Kigali market. If youth in the agriculture sector can be brought together and be empowered, it can be effective in terms of solving the issue while also helping them gain financially. The sector needs to be thought about a lot. Government shall empower youth to venture into agriculture because it has potential,” he said. Tackling volunteerism, he said it can be good for youth to volunteer while also being financially stable rather than volunteering as poor or unemployed people. He added: “We should also think about professional volunteerism. Youth shall volunteer in the fields related to what they study. That can motivate them and be more effective than how it is done today - volunteering for only social activities.” For Christian Ntwali, Founder of a youth-led initiative, Our Past, to further empower Rwandan youth “we first need to find a common ground between the young and the older generation.” “To understand what needs to be done, you have to look back and understand where our country came from. From there, the young generation of our nation will understand what they need to do to protect what has been achieved by our elders,” he said. He added: “This is a good time to be alive as a young person in our country like the saying in Kinyarwanda “Uwapfuye yarihuse”. We need to take a good example of our leadership, use that as fuel, ammunition and as ink to write the most important letter for our country.” Erica Kabanda, a youth based in Kigali, recognises that opportunities are available and that youth need to tap into them. “Youth don’t have to think that each and everything is going to be brought to them on a silver plate. They should inform themselves about the existing opportunities and platforms, and make advantage of the networks they have. They shall have zeal to learn, and instead of just seeking for jobs, also seek to build experience and network,” she said. She urged youth in decision-making positions to stay responsible as they represent fellow youth, and to learn fast so that they can empower others.