What is there to write home about on the International Youth Day 2012?
It is a quiet Sunday morning, the 12th day of August 2012. I am reflecting on the gains that young people have had in seeking a central place in the quest for representation in the national and global governance and leadership Agenda. It is a week that has seen the world glued on the Olympic Games in London. In deed the Olympics will conclude today, on the International Youth Day 2012. It is with utmost respect that I want to recognize the good job done by the International Olympics Committee as well as the City of London for a well-organized event.
Talking of Olympics, if we keenly looked at the people who took center stage in clinching the Medals, over 99% of them all were young people under the age of 35. I am taking this opportunity to congratulate all the young people who made their appearance in the London Olympics and proving once more that the global Olympics agenda will and still remain in the ability, strength and honor of the youth. Congratulations are in order for our own Kenyan King David Rudisha for tearing apart the world Record in the men's 800 meters with so much ease one could only imagine he was competing against himself and the clock. He did not show any strains, he did it with ease and remained strong. We will still see much of him in the coming years because he is still young and has a brighter future if he remains disciplined.
Today marks another day in the calendar of young people for us to reflect on the gains thus far made. We still witness a flurry of activities in NGO's, Local and International Organizations including the United Nations trying to outdo each other with varied activities and programs for the youth. Today, more than ever before we have thousands of initiatives running in parallel to each other with the quest to unite the voice of young people and support the empowerment of youth in various parts of the world. VERDICT: FAIL. Today more than ever before, the young people are still faced with the biggest challenge of unemployment, lack of coordination, cohesiveness and harmony.
The biggest question is what has changed and what has not? The change is in number of local and international institutions focusing on empowering young people. What has not changed is the increasing problems that young people continue to face today.
This year has seen a lot of focus on youth starting with the United Nations. The Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has made attempts in his second term in office to support the increased influence of youth in the United Nations System. In the Secretary General's Five year agenda page 10 and 11, he has appointed a Special Advisor in youth Source: http://bit.ly/SbprIc . In follow up to this commitment, the UNHABITAT in partnership with UNDP hosted the Youth 21 http://bit.ly/zMledR meeting in Nairobi seeking to better understand and advocate for the engagement of youth in governance. A couple of recommendations were published in "Youth 21: Building architecture for youth engagement in the UN System" In this document three scenarios have been identified 1). Scaling up UN Program on Youth, 2). Appointing the Special Representative on Youth, 3). Establishing the UN Permanent Forum on Youth.
UNHABITAT has been on the forefront to push for the youth inclusiveness agenda with various initiatives on going. The efforts must be applauded noting that a number of youth have directly benefited from the Youth Fund an initiative of UNHABITAT. Another global event will be the World Urban Forum in September. On the sidelines of the forum will be the World Urban Youth Assembly. I will personally participate in the youth assembly. My sharp focus being on how to effectively utilize the spaces provided to ensure the voices of young people are heard and that as we head to the future we begin to effectively put the youth into the driving seat of their own agenda with harmony and unity that will deliver results.
Many governments, the Kenyan Government being a perfect example have failed in putting the agenda of young people as part of their national unity. I am on record stating categorically that creating special seats for youth representatives does not help in mainstreaming youth in governance issues. I criticized the creation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs noting that it will further marginalize youth. Mine was a sole voice in the celebrations. Today, many youth agree more that the Ministry of Youth Affairs is more a failure and has completely vexed its priorities to become yet another dysfunctional government ministry that is not sensitive to matters affecting the youth.
I will categorically state here that we need to mainstream youth development in all our governance and leadership structures with working systems. The mainstreaming agenda needs to be carefully crafted so that it meaningfully includes the views of young people rather than being another conduit for marginalizing them.
When the youth began to prepare for their elections under the National Youth Council, the powers that be realized that this was going to be a powerful force that would threaten their lackluster approach on governance. This agenda has been fought by the powers that be and as such we might not achieve this agenda as long as we have the same kind of politics leading our country.
I would love to see the youth wake up to create this council without depending on the funding from government and leveraging on their numerical strength to push for their agenda. However, the politicians noting that the youth are unemployed use this situation to divide the youth vote by bribing them to fight each other. The Youth should know that Status Quo Politicians are their enemy number 1. We need an independent audit of the performance of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, and all other State and Non state Youth Focused Programs and provide an analysis on the effectiveness and recommendations if we need them or not.
Many youth gatherings and meetings will not resolve the problems that youth go through. A harmonized approach clear with Monitoring and evaluation systems will help to critically analyze the activities targeting the youth.I was recently talking to a friend on the effectiveness of the thousands of organizations focusing their attention on youth. We need an independent audit to take this organizations, agencies and programs to task to account for the resources provided and give tangible results on how they have benefited youth through empowerment.
As we celebrate the international youth day 2012. Let us re-examine ourselves, celebrate the achievement s of the many young people who have gone out there and proved against all odds that they can make it without any help. Let us examine those who purport to represent the youth and hold them to account. Let us begin to take action and stop waiting for someone to come and uplift us from our helplessness.
Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo