Meaningfully Involve Young People in Policy Processes
Category : Naya Blog
Image Courtesy: youthhealthparticipation.com
By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)
For us to bring tremendous social and economic benefits in this country, we need to involve all young people in matters that touch around governance, voice, accountability and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Youth participation means better decisions and increased efficiency.
Young people are both tomorrow’s leaders, parents, professionals and workers and today’s assets. If properly supported and given the right opportunities, girls and boys, young women and young men can play a significant part in lifting themselves, their families, communities and the country out of all problems that they face.
Effective youth participation is all about creating opportunities for young people to be involved mostly in influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to policy and the development of services and programmes. These opportunities are usually created through developing a range of formal and informal mechanisms for youth participation from youth advisory groups to focus groups, from on-going consultation work to supporting youth-led projects.
There are many reasons for including young people in decision-making. Evidence shows that all policies and programmes designed after consultation with young people are more likely to be effective. By involving young people you are more likely to get it right the first time and avoid wasting time and money on services young people don’t want to use.
Involving young people in decision-making also strengthens community capacity. It builds a broader base of citizen involvement and creates stronger and more inclusive communities. Youth participation is necessary in the development of active citizenship because it balances young people’s social rights with their responsibilities.
Research has shown that young people who are given a chance to take part in decision-making activities are more likely to increase their confidence and self-belief, exercise positive career choices and have greater involvement and responsibility in the future. It has basically contributed to positive youth development
Lastly, youth participation challenges negative stereotypes of young people and help break down barriers between adults and young people. Involving young people in decision-making can improve attitudes towards understanding about young people and create a greater awareness of youth issues in an in any institution.
Youth participation is a right every young person is entitled to. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all young people under the age of 18 have the right to participate in decision-making. It recognizes their rights to express their opinions, to have their opinions considered in decisions that affect them and to receive and give information and ideas.
If we want to have a better future then we need to involve young people in all decision making activities. We need to equip them will skills and tools to propel this country ahead. Young people are valuable assets and we need to invest in them
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