Image source: youthvillage.co.ke
Set on August 12 of every year, the International Youth Day (IYD) seeks to celebrate young people, globally and shines a light on youth-related matters across the world, with this year’s theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action” reminding us of the potential young people have and their ability to have an impact in the institutions and processes. This is at local, national and global level.
Empowering young people in formal political instruments expands the integrity of political procedures and creates better and more economical policies with representative significance that can additionally re-establish trust in public establishments, particularly among the youth.
Most of the challenges faced by humankind currently, i.e. COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, unemployment require deliberate worldwide activity and significant commitment and investment of youths, who need to be engaged at all levels.
Internet and social media have become an important tool for sharing information and mobilization and young people are leveraging on this in their various causes and engagements. The viral #MyDressMyChoice campaign, which began after a woman was brutally assaulted outside a Nairobi bus stop for wearing a miniskirt is a good case study on how the youth are tackling gender discrimination and violence in Kenya one tweet at a time.
The online campaign and a demonstration, which took place in November 17, 2014, gathered nearly a thousand people in the center of Nairobi, prompting Kenyan leaders to respond.
Kenya’s Twittersphere has become a space where young people are not only bringing their leaders to book but also for flag emerging consumer protection issues across the sector, something that has seen more business leaders and corporates join the space to listen to young people. All this at an almost zero cost.
Moreover, certain government initiatives undeniably call for more youth inclusion. For instance, youth-focused projects by governments based on solving challenges faced by the youth are seldom structured on working with and hearing from young people, and as a result, these projects fail to properly tend to the needs they are intended to solve.
According the Dr Evans Kituyi, Director of the East Africa Institute, Aga Khan University, the youth are a powerful force that can be depended for global action towards sustainability.
“We need to empower the youth with the relevant skills and knowledge so that they can continue to put their innovative potentials to use where they are most needed, particularly in resolving the world’s big challenges.”
The youth remain an incredible power that should be utilized and governments must fuel their vitality to construct policies that will guarantee the detailing of viable arrangements taking advantage of the promising potential of youths everywhere. In addition, the execution of the standards behind International Youth Day cannot simply be a one-day undertaking but a lifestyle.
Dani Beckman is a Communications Intern at the Aga Khan University, East Africa and is currently pursuing her studies at the University of Washington. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.