Natalie Robi Tingo, 23, a Youth Power Accountability Advocate from Kenya, gives her take on why and how young people and governments should work together to keep promises made in the Global Goals – a message she has taken to the OGP Africa Regional Meeting 2016.
In recent news, social unrest across the world and in my country, Kenya, has closely been associated with the grave discontent of young people on poor governance and corruption in government.
In a recent survey of the UN and its partners, what young people identified as wanting is responsive and honest governments. In another survey by the World Bank, 80% of young people who responded across the world – including Kenya – want their government to be more open.
This is one of the reasons I became an Accountability Advocate as part of the Youth Power campaign. I am part of a network of 110 young people using data to hold decision makers to account on commitments they have made in the Global Goals.
I have learned that I have power, and most importantly, the power to hold my government to account on its commitments to us, citizens. Whether it’s local youth monitoring the implementation of a government contract, or reporting of missing drugs in a hospital, young people should be able to participate to influence policy so that there are better services for everyone.
Using data in the interest of citizens
Working with other Accountability Advocates, the first step we took was to move the discussion on the Global Goals from conference rooms to the villages, connecting with the local level. We discovered information on the Global Goals is lacking and not reaching the people who are most affected by them.
We also sort to simplify the information so that it could be better understood, especially by young people and communities. We began by engaging the young people on simple, day to day accountability practices, as well as analysing village development plans and how they link up to national development plans. We are engaged in the various budget processes by ensuring young people participate forum where citizens can feed into government budgets, and give their proposals for the various projects. We are also organising citizen surveys using scorecards, which involves our communities in monitoring government projects.
Our efforts have definitely not always been received with open arms. Young people have been threatened, we have been denied access to information, our various proposals have not been taken into account. We are not starting a war; what we want is a more responsive government. A government that listens to its people, one that opens up spaces for collaboration. This means strengthening processes of open data and access to information, so we can be on the same platform, where we have the same information as the government.
Young people want to be involved so that we are not limited to the sidelines. If the government is ready for citizen participation, especially from young people, they have to be ready to follow through on promises made in the Global Goals. Each time young people are invited to cooperate in decision-making, governments should be bound to follow through the results. True participation will only be realised when the voice of youth is taken into consideration not only at the beginning but in the implementation of the public policies that affect our lives.
Natalie is a youth & women’s advocate, girls rights activist, founder & executive director of Msichana Empowerment Kuria is a women-led community based organization in rural Kenya.
She is passionate about girls’ rights to end poverty and reduce inequality by addressing Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. She partners with girls, their communities and stakeholders to advance Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as Human Rights, build the agency for girls to demand for them through girl-led initiatives, and influence policy and investments at the county level.
Natalie has been a girls rights activist for 8 years now during which she has mobilized more than 50,000 community members through community dialogues, public rallies, marches to raise awareness & women empowerment initiatives for an end to violence & discrimination against girls, girl-led and focused initiatives with 2,000 most vulnerable girls through girl village safe space, mentorship & skill workshops in Kuria, rural Kenya.