Youth empowerment: UNFPA Ghana marks milestone with YoLe Fellows cohort 4 graduation; induction of 5th batch

Kelly Adjetey Boye
Kelly Adjetey Boye
11 Min Read

In a ceremony filled with promise and accomplishment, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana has recently celebrated the induction of Cohort 5 of Youth Leaders (YoLe) Fellows and the graduation of Cohort 4.

The event, held at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra on December 15, 2023, served as a testament to UNFPA’s commitment to preparing young leaders for impactful careers in Ghana and on the global stage.

The dual-purpose ceremony not only welcomed a new cohort of aspiring leaders but also recognized the significant contributions of the 4th cohort of YoLe Fellows.

Their commendable efforts in areas such as zero gender-based violence, zero unmet needs, and zero preventable maternal deaths during their one-year service were acknowledged and applauded.

Addressing the audience at the ceremony, Country Representative of UNFPA Ghana, Dr. Wilfred Ochan, highlighted the critical role of youth leaders in the organization’s mission. Commending the 4th cohort for their dedication and embodiment of UNFPA core values, Dr. Ochan underscored their transformation into experts and global leaders.

This transformation, he believes, will have a lasting positive impact on society, fostering a healthy environment free from human rights violations and injustice.

“We are proud of your dedication and display of the UNFPA core values, which you have imbibed so excellently. There is no doubt that the prospect of each one of you is great, and we look forward to all the great stories,” he said.

“It is not just a ceremony, but the moment you step into a place of nurturing, a community of diverse young leaders, and amongst friends and colleagues eager to see them emerge. As YoLe Fellows, your participation makes you torchbearers of a movement that is breaking barriers and challenging norms. I hope that the holistic approach of equipping you with knowledge and skills in leadership and advocacy, alongside diverse professional training opportunities, will be the spark that continues to light your way in creating lasting change,” he added.

UNFPA Ghana YoLe Fellowship Cohort 5 Members

In a visionary move to harness the potential of Ghanaian youth, UNFPA Ghana initiated the Youth Leadership Fellowship Program five years ago in 2018. Aligned with the UN Secretary-General’s global strategy on youth, this innovative program seeked to involve the younger generation in decision-making, leadership, development, and security matters, recognizing their role as the custodians of the future.

Dr. Wilfred Ochan, speaking to the media, shared insights into the program’s inception and purpose, stating, “The intention is, and as you know, globally, youth is a big force. Youth are the custodians and inheritors of the future. Therefore, involving youth now in decision-making, involving youth in leadership, involving youth in development, involving youth in peace, and involving youth in security matters paves a good path to sustainable development in the world.”

He underscored the program’s commitment to diversity, revealing that the latest cohort comprises 60% females, 40% males, and an 8% representation of persons with disabilities to mirror Ghana’s demographic profile.

The program’s rigorous one-year leadership training includes a foundational phase covering topics like leadership, teamwork, work ethics, technology, innovation, and design thinking.

Dr. Ochan highlighted the transformative impact on the fellows’ personalities, character, work approach, and even public speaking and confidence.

“We have seen a number of them get jobs immediately with the UN and with embassies. A couple of them have gone for further studies in terms of master’s. And we’ve been growing from 18 fellows in 2018 to 27 in the last cohort, with the current cohort comprising 33 of them,” he said.

UNFPA Ghana YoLe Fellowship Cohort 5 Induction

Emphasizing the program’s holistic approach, Dr. Ochan expressed the intention to distill key learnings and collaborate with entities like the National Youth Authority and universities to scale the program’s impact.

“Our intention is really because our capacity as UNFPA to train may be limited, but the intention is: what do we learn from this? And can UNFPA partner with other major entities like the National Youth Authority, like some universities, after infusing the lesson, the training approach, and scale into a program that can benefit a larger youth population in the country?” he asked.

As the program enters its next phase, the focus is on growth—more fellows, more sites, more diversity, and more partnerships. Dr. Ochan emphasized the model’s replicability, aiming to demonstrate its success and make it accessible to more young people, potentially through collaborations with government bodies and educational institutions.

Mohammed Sharif Yakubu, speaking on behalf of YoLe Cohort 5, acknowledged the program’s alignment with the United Nations’ Youth Strategy and its support for the government of Ghana’s priorities in youth development.

He highlighted the program’s success over the past five years in transforming lives and creating an enabling environment for youth engagement.

“On behalf of YoLe Cohort 5, I want to express our sincere appreciation for the program’s strong alignment with the United Nations’ Youth Strategy. This is crucial in expanding our impact and taking meaningful action to address the diverse needs of young people. We are particularly grateful for the program’s support for Ghana’s priorities on youth development, economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, agriculture, migration, mobility, and sexual and reproductive health. Over the past five years, the YoLe Fellowship has achieved remarkable transformational successes, and we are excited to continue contributing to positive change in these vital areas.”

In the pursuit of expanding her impact beyond the confines of a consultant, Dr. Harriette Ampofo embarked on a transformative journey by joining the UNFPA Youth Leadership Fellowship Program, specifically Cohort 5.

Driven by personal encounters with patients in dire need of sexual and reproductive health services, both in emergency rooms and outpatient departments, she recognized the critical gaps in knowledge, especially among women. It became evident that empowering women with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health was paramount.

“I joined the UNFPA YoLe Cohort 5 program because I want to take my practice beyond the consultant. I have had personal encounters with patients who were in great need of sexual and reproductive health. Both in emergency rooms and outpatient departments and nurses that the level of knowledge when it comes to sexual reproductive health is quite low, especially among women, and even the parts take decisions to save their own lives. And so I decided to join the program to join the advocacy for better sexual reproductive health services outside and take time interface to learn.” she told the media.

Dr. Ampofo, who is not only a medical doctor but also engages in data science, coding for Python, and data analysis, envisions expanding her skill set during her tenure in the program.

Working within the United Nations environment, she aims to deepen her understanding of its dynamics, programs, and intricacies. Moreover, she aspires to leverage her multifaceted expertise, combining medical knowledge with data science, to contribute effectively to the program’s evaluation and monitoring department.

“I also hope to develop my skill set. As a medical doctor, I’m also into data science, I code for Python, I do data analysis. I’m hoping to also draw from that joining the programs and manage an evaluation department where we have to monitor and evaluate most of our programs that we do with our other partners. So one, I hope to understand the immune system better and then develop my skill sets as well,” she added.

As the curtain falls and another chapter of the UNFPA Youth Leadership Fellowship Program begins, the resonance of transformative journeys and empowered voices lingers in the air. The Yole Fellows, emblematic of resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of positive change, have etched their mark on the canvas of leadership.

The legacy of Yole Fellows illuminates the path forward—a path marked by advocacy, resilience, and the unwavering belief that the youth, as custodians of the future, hold within them the power to shape a brighter and more equitable tomorrow.

UNFPA Ghana YoLe Fellowship Cohort 5 Member

The UNFPA’s Youth Leadership Fellowship Program stands not just as a training ground but as a transformative force, fostering leaders who, in turn, become beacons of change in a world yearning for progress. The journey continues, and with each cohort, the flame of empowerment grows brighter, lighting the way for generations to come.

Story by: Kelly Adjetey Boye |

Share This Article
Leave a comment