Financing for Development: Invest in Meaningful Youth Participation

Financing for Development: Invest in Meaningful Youth Participation

(Photo: Our Country Team Leader with President Thambo Mbeki at a Side Event in Addis)

By Robert Aseda, (@Varaq)

Over the years, global development goals have been set by technocrats and experts. There was widespread belief that these processes were too complex for the average Joe to understand, let alone young Joe.

Majority of these processes did not have youth components, and the few glimpses of youth issues in them were ideas from technical people who factored in what they thought young people wanted.

Cheikh, the special envoy of the president of Burkina Faso shared an interesting story about the role of community involvement in developing and executing development ideas.

He tells of his community where woman travelled long ways just to access clean water.

In their own wisdom, the government in collaboration with development partners, built a huge water point right at the center of the village.

However, it was observed that the women snubbed the nearer, safer and more convenient water point and still trooped to the river.

Curious what might have forced the women to act this way, one confided in him,

“You see, the time for fetching water is the only time we get as women to talk our issues.”

But this isn’t about women in Burkina Faso refusing a well-built water point.

This is about meaningful participation in decision making processes.

For the longest of time, young people have been like this women; being given things others feel are important for them but ones nevertheless they didn’t ask for.

The narrative has to change now.

The global discussions on the POST 2015 Agenda gave young people an unprecedented opportunity to influence policy making at the highest level. Whereas there was no specific goal on young people among the seventeen goals, the language on youth was still strong.

But realizing this goals will not just require powerful statements but also key resources including finances, technology and capacity.

That’s why NAYA KENYA , alongside other civil society organizations working around the rights of young people from across the globe are in Addis Ababa; to ensure that Financing for Development Conference finances meaningful youth development in an integrated and sustainable way.

And whereas young people may from time to time lack specific skills on key thematic issues, it is still important that their capacity is built in order to allow them to participate fully in development agenda.

Of course this meaningful youth participation should not be measured just in times of quantity of young people involved or even quantity of this meetings, it should be measured in terms of the quality of the contributions.

Our leaders keep on saying that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, then investing in their health, education and building their economic base now is not only the smart thing to do, but also the right thing to do.

The Addis Ababa accord, though not as strongest as we would want int to be, must now be implemented in driving the development agenda forward, including as a means of implementation to the upcoming sustainable development goals.

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