Eva Nzila Joseph, a youth advocate from Kenya represented Restless Development at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit (OGP) in Tbilisi, Georgia. Read about her reflections from the event and about how summits can act as springboards for youth involvement in policy-making.

Some people wait for big things to happen for them to acknowledge that they have been blessed. It seemed normal to those who attended the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Georgia, but it was a blessing to me, in more ways than one. Along with other youth advocates, we led a session, raising the voice of young people in our communities. Being young, I’ve always noticed that we are often ignored.

Speaking alongside and talking with these young people was by all means mind-blowing. I heard many young people mention the issues that they face in their countries. Though their countries may be different, I could relate to almost all the issues they raised.  With that in mind, we sought to come up with solutions that could make a positive impact on young people’s lives.

The ideas we came up with were many, and by the end of the day, less than 20 young people came up with solutions that CAN by all means change the world.

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The problem is that often older panelists speak at these summits about youth-friendly policies. Mostly we aren’t even on stage! Quite depressing. That’s not to downplay the work that they do in the slightest, but highlight the fact that young people can do the same things they do and even better, if given the chance.

The rest of the time we spent at the conference were quite interesting as well. I met many people with brilliant minds from all over the world, seeking to make the world a better place. OGP continues to fulfill its role, ensuring that member states are accountable to their citizens.

I would be here a long time explaining all my takeaways from the summit, but one thing that stood out is the impact that young people made in the conference. There was so much fire and ambition to change things in our different countries through our small ways.

I couldn’t help but wonder, if a group of about 20 young people could fight for better inclusion for youth at OGP summits, what can young people, who speak in one voice, do if they decided to come together and change their world? This clearly shows why young people are feared by many governments!

As we eagerly await the next OGP conference in Canada, we can only hope that Open Government Participation steering committee will be accountable to its promise of having more youth representation at OGP.

Read more about our other OGP rep, Francis Ametepey’s experience at OGP here

What do you think?