DANDELION KENYA & GCAP KENYA ENABLE MAKE YOUTH CIVIC ENGAGEMENT A REALITY FOR ALL YOUTH INCLUDING YOUTH RURAL NAKURU
We always speak of young people, quite a lot I must say and in all manner of inflections, be it the potential they embody for the world, the high unemployment rates, the rising waves of extremism and how this affects them and the manner in which they interact with technology intimately. This list does not summarize all the attributes, adjectives and depictions we have laid out for young people.
August 10th-14th was international youth week, heightened and climaxed on 12th August when the world celebrates international youth day. While the world celebrated this phenomenal day, Africa in particular was celebrating 70% of its population, a demographic phase in which the cradle of mankind is youthful, energetic and embodying promise. This youthful population brings with it various opportunities and challenges for the continent, as we stand most African countries are at above 50% rates of youth unemployment. This is not to mention that young people are ever more literate than before, young people got their heads wrapped technology and many other innovations that the world rolls out. Most of those engaging with new innovations are young people.
There is however a point where all the literacy, tech savvy young people find themselves facing real challenges. Challenges of lack of access, inequality and lack of representation to just gloss over briefly. Young people in most countries across the world including Africa are poorly represented in decision making spheres which hinders their access to resources and edges out their contribution in important spaces that affect their lives. When their contribution is being valued or being listened to, the world cannot help but instrumentalize their participation in the process due to attempts at rationalizing why governments must make investments in young people. To truly achieve just and inclusive societies we must respect and invest in all people while recognizing their input and contribution.
This year’s theme aimed to promote young people’s effective inclusive engagement at all levels while at the same time providing an opportunity for young people to learn from their peers already engaging in various policy making platforms. Engagement and participation of young people is crucial to sustainable development despite the low or non-existent opportunities. More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing. Young people from across Africa have come together to ensure their voices are heard, doing what they can with what they have where they are. This epitomizes the resilience, hard work and determination that young people put in their quest to participate in making the world a better place for all.
The international youth day was happening against the backdrop of the world having just adopted the post2015 development agenda. What is the role of young people in implementing this visionary and robust sustainable development agenda? The agenda in letter and spirit did seek to leave no one behind, do we have structures that will ensure no one will be left behind? Have we established structures to ensure implementation takes everybody’s unique insights, capabilities and positioning. These structures should recognize what various stakeholders including young people put on the table and that should be accepted and taken into account at all times.
Dandelion Kenya in partnership with GCAP Kenya scheduled activities to commemorate international youth day and respond to the above questions, building on and upto the 12th of August 2015. The activities were both online and offline, a blog carnival presented young people with an opportunity to write about youth civic engagement, a radio interview enabled reach young people in 15 counties of Western part of Kenya, a twitter chat hosted a debate beyond borders online to provide opportunity for youth to input onto the subject of youth civic engagement, a physical meeting on 12th provided a platform to exchange information and also educate fellow youth on post 2015 and finally a google hangout enable facilitate a virtual dialogue that will be broadcasted and later be made available for dissemination to other young people across the African continent and the globe. All these platforms enabled provide and generate crucial resources that young people need and Dandelion Kenya was honoured to partner with GCAP Kenya to make this a reality for young people.