Young People under the age of 35 make up 70% of the Kenyan population. However, too often their priorities are not reflected in government priorities, policies, and budgeting processes and outcomes. At a time when the importance of their role and potential for improving policies to meet their need is at its greatest, Kenyan youth have a huge opportunity to shift the country`s policy landscape.
Kenya`s County Governments Act in section 106 (4) obligates counties to provide for citizen participation that shall be done in a process that involves “ meaningful engagement of citizens ” (105(1-d). To address this gap, policy makers must prioritize the meaningful engagement of youth in policy-making and implementing processes that can impact their health and well-being. Their inputs and perspectives will go a long way in ensuring that resources are directed to the programs that they need and in a way that is effective.
It is important to note that meaningful engagement means more than mere presence or representation in policy-making processes. It requires allowing youth the trust, respect, and decision-making authority they need to have a true impact. But the responsibility goes both ways.
Meaningful Youth Engagement exists when?
Youth need to be prepared, engaged, and educated about the processes they seek to inform. Since youth are as diverse as their older counterparts, they also need to be willing and able to represent the interests of their peers, as well as themselves. Youth priorities and perspectives may vary by age, gender, socio-economic status, geographical location and many other factors. And it is imperative that the voices of those who are marginalized and vulnerable are heard.