ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Bad governance, the absence of women at decision-making tables and youth unemployment are some of the challenges that continue to blight Africa's quest for total peace, social cohesion and sustainable development, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said on Monday.
The ECA chief made the remarks on Monday while addressing a high-level discussion on sustaining peace and economic security that was convened by the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the margins of the ongoing 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"Bad governance lies at the center of Africa's failure to sustain peace. When conflicts persist, girls drop out of school and we lose Africa's brain trust. Women and girls must not be used as or for conflict," said Songwe.
Noting that currently there are 21 armed conflicts raging on the continent, Songwe also stressed that "We need to ensure that women are included in critical decision-making processes if we are to reduce conflict, sustain peace, and deliver a prosperous Africa."
"Investing in women and ensuring they have a seat at the decision-making table is crucial for peace, social cohesion and sustainable development on the African continent," she added.
The ECA chief further said the over 13 million of Africa's youth who have no employment were a time bomb that requires the continent's leaders to act fast, "our leaders need to invest in education, our business environments, good governance and infrastructure."
Canada's Prime Minister Trudeau also on his part said that "in this time of change, time of transformation of the global economy, conflict and climate challenges, people worry that the system has no place for them. We have populism in some places... attractiveness of extremism and terrorism in far too many youth."
"It's time for us to pull together. To understand that an essential part of building peace isn't just the absence of conflict, it's the creation of opportunities; it is working with local governments to see the need for the young people to have jobs, become entrepreneurs; investments that can unlock economic opportunities as an essential part of the path forward."
He called for home-grown solutions in countries that are in conflict. Imposed solutions, he said, do not work.
"We need to work better together, driving investors and creating economic opportunities and prosperity that is broadly shared, with a real and fair chance to succeed for all of us," Trudeau said.
Burkina Faso President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, also highlighted the conflicts in his country and the Sahel region in general, and the need for more international support to combat jihadist groups and extremism.
The current UN General Assembly President, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, also hailed the high-level meeting, saying there is a need to define and refine the best ways through which to secure and sustain peace and economic security on the continent.
"Peace is key to Africa's sustainable development, adding no stone should be left unturned in efforts to address conflicts and promote peace," Muhammad-Bande said.