On February 28, visiting U.S. official Ms. Tijen Aybar visited the University of Yaounde II, where she met with over 75 students to discuss American foreign policy priorities to promote the empowerment of youth, women and girls. Ms. Aybar serves as Public Diplomacy Country Affairs Officer for Central Africa at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and she visited Cameroon from February 26 through March 2, 2015. She was accompanied at the program by Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II and EducationUSA Advisor Richard Ewane.
The student body was diverse, composed by men and women from Cameroon as well as exchange students from Tanzania, Uganda, the Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. During discussions, several students highlighted their interest in promoting greater trade between the United states and African nations, expansion of the private and agricultural sectors, the role of a free media, and increased opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship to promote economic growth in Africa.
Ms. Aybar highlighted that each of those are also U.S. priorities in the region, manifested through the Africa Growth Opportunity Act, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)/Mandela Washington Fellows, Africa Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), academic and journalism exchanges sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. “As President Obama has said, in all areas in need of development throughout the world, women must be at the forefront of all efforts towards effecting positive change for their communities and nations. No nation seeking to advance and develop, including in the United States, can do so without welcoming the talents and ideas of women, who comprise over half the population,” she said.
Mr. Quiroz explained that the United States places a top priority on economic development and women’s empowerment because a prosperous Africa will contribute towards global economic development. “In the 21st century nations are linked economically. President Obama has stated that the future of Africa must be built through the efforts of its youth, including women, which will one day assume leadership in all sectors. You all will play an important role in building that future. When Cameroon and Africa succeed, America succeeds,” he said.
At the end of the program, Mr. Ewane presented 100 books to the university on behalf of the American people, encouraged the students to remain focused on their education, and informed them of opportunities available to students interested in studying in the United States. The program underscored the United States’ priority to conduct public diplomacy outreach among youth and students.
See Facebook album of program: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10155321137995716.1073741983.312546460715&type=3&uploaded=6.