Inclusive youth participation and policy making

By Sarah Choji, YWCA of Nigeria

The world conference on youth was held in Sri Lanka May, 2014, meeting different young people from around the globe was an experience I looked forward to and the excitement of traveling to a continent that I have never been to (Asia) and meeting different people, though a long journey from home (Nigeria) it was worth it. Our coming together as young people to discuss and proffer solutions during parallel sessions that took place on issues that concerns young people was our duty and responsibility. Plenaries, breakout sessions and round table discussions started on Wednesday and everyone got down to business. I was interested in inclusive youth participation in policy making, SRHR and the religious society, which is translated into The Future Young Women Want: A global Call to action put together by YWCA young women and girls across Africa on transformations we want to see in our lifetime and our commitment to achieving it, an aspect of which is focused on access to quality education and how to make informed choices and safety for girls in school. Regional meetings were held for every region that where represented to discuss issues peculiar to their respective member country, and possible solutions on how to go about tackling these issues.

Sarah Choji

Sarah Choji

Inclusive youth participation and policy making at all levels is seen to be very minimal or not even in place in most countries globally, as a result we see an increase rate of unemployed young people, urban migration due to high poverty for those living in the rural areas, absence of youth with entrepreneurial skills, under inclusiveness of marginalised youth in economic participation, zero capacity building and comprehensive knowledge on media and how to harness it to our benefit. Young people should be seen as partners and stakeholders in every society because investing in young people through comprehensive education, policy making and also eliminating some kind of laws and legislation that stereotype or marginalise the young people from contributing to the society will be removed. Stereotypes like years of experience in a particular field before being granted employment. There should be a way to bridge the gap for the young people to enable them job opportunity in any field they desire without discrimination. In terms of policy making, we see different ways and perspective in which young people are being classed as irresponsible, party lovers, and inadequate managers of resources which make it difficult for young people to be included in policy making and governance. A call was also made to young people to learn to be responsible and to live up to expectation and work hard in their field of endeavor. Also bridging the gap on information on ICPD and post 2015 agenda among young people should be increased because there is very low understanding and knowledge of this concept (ICPD).

Youth ministries should be given some degree of freedom to operate, carry out youth based activities and look into issues that concern and affect the young people which can be tackled without waiting for approval from the government. Also in relation to this, countries that do not have youth ministries are encouraged to work with their government to establish one. In summary we advocated for creation of institutions in every country to grant young people the power to participate in decision making for instance creating specific ministries for youth e.g. sports, arts & culture and much more to be put in place with deliberate effort to having young people operate and run the ministry. Establishing check and balance mechanisms in order to secure accountability of government authorities on youth; for instance publishing quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly reports on activities related to youths. This is to ensure that young people are carried along and are in the picture of activities their ministries involved in. also ensure that all young people have access to technology ,the internet, access to free and right information and develop new visa systems that will promote mobility for young people e.g. shorten the visa application process.