Positives of Youth Engagement in Governance – By Elizabeth Mueni.

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The United Nations uses the term youth to refer to people between the age of 18-35 years. This definition does not however apply to all the states. According to the United Nations, 25% of the total population in Kenya is made up of the youth. The survey also shows that 7.24% of that population is made up of unemployed youth. It has been noted that the participation of youth in governance has been picking up in recent years and especially after the occurrence of devolved governance. The Kenyan youth have been active recently in government rallies, political seats, and even ministerial positions. But just how have the youth been involved?

According to Social Media Lab, 40% of social media users in Kenya are youth aged between 18 years to about 35 years. This clearly shows that the youth are the highest social media users. The government has recently brought almost all of their activities online and this has given the youth the opportunity to interact with government projects online, participate by giving their opinions, and criticizing the government. The youth can use the social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to air their opinions on ongoing government projects. The media houses also engage the youth in order to get their opinion on government through social media.

Additionally, in 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta held a workshop for the Youth through the Kenya ni Mimi initiative. The forum was meant to inspire the Youth and enable them to be drivers of their own agenda and to seek leadership positions at all levels. The President demonstrated youth leadership when he appointed Nadia Ahmed who is 28 years old to the Ministry of ICT and Youth Affairs. The World Bank has been working with Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet county governments to design a platform in which Kenyan youth will be engaged. The workshop opens a dialogue between the government and the youth to interact and share ideas on leadership. These workshops are necessary for the participation of youth in government.

According to the 2010 constitution, the state shall take measures including affirmative action programs to ensure that the youth receive education, have the ability to associate and interact and have the opportunity to be represented socially, economically, and politically. The youth should be given access to employment and should be protected against all harm. The constitution calls for youth representation and in devolved government, at least one person is appointed to represent the youth.

The last general election was characterized by a huge number of young people who participated in the election either by voting or contesting for a position. The 12th parliament has a high number of young Kenyans for example, Paul Ongili of Embakasi East and Charles Kanyi of Starehe. In the upper house, we have Johnson Sakaja of Nairobi county and Anwar Loitiptip of Lamu, just to mention a few. The higher learning institutions in Kenya also give the youth an opportunity to contest for different leadership positions and portray their leadership skills. Kenya has seen University chairperson contests in national elections and this clearly shows the large milestones youth leadership in Kenya has taken. The government has also boosted the performance of youth contestants in leadership by appointing them to head different sections and programs in government.

There are thousands of youth in different sectors in the country and even internationally. The youth have taken the leadership response positively and they are making huge strides in order to achieve more. The constitution acknowledges the youth as of good reasoning and decision making and they should be given an opportunity to showcase their skills to the public through leadership.

 

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Siasa Place is an NGO formed 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics.

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