It is vital for leaders to make an intentional effort to include and involve youth voice in decision-making processes and also for young people to take responsibility to participate and show up Andromedah Naringo
Eight years ago, world leaders convened and adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development with the planet, and people in mind. In 2020 I was privileged to attend the 6th session of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development Goals.
Participating in the conference made me realize a number of things I was unaware of concerning the meaningful engagement of young people during conversations and discussions with decision-makers.
At the forum, I learned that the world is behind and needs to take positive action to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development goals.
Recently young people, civil societies, world leaders, and other actors attended the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) to share the progress the world is making on the agenda 2030. Some of our young people had an opportunity to attend the HLPF.
However, the greatest question is, how are you going to use your youth voice to represent an Asian, African, or European young person who may have failed to attend the conference? I am sharing with you some of the key issues I found helpful in putting across your point and mind during such events.
Often at times when we hear about taking action, we quickly think it’s the responsibility of those in authority. Today, I would like to share tips on how young people can use their youth voice to influence change in various spheres.
Tips to have your Youth Voice heard:
Be clear and specific when sharing your issues with the leaders. Your message should be curated clearly and specifically. As young people lobby and campaign for youth inclusion, they need to be confident in putting across their minds and voices across
One of the things I enjoyed when I attended the summit was positively using my youth voice to promote young people’s inclusion in developmental programs. Attending these high-level platform events requires one to be bold and share their thoughts without fear.
Don’t allow yourself to be given words to speak.
Many a time, young people are fed with information to speak, and this deprives them of an opportunity to be authentic. The assumption that young people do not have the right messaging and vocabulary is limiting the participation and inclusion of young people.
I remember at the forum I had been given an opportunity to speak and out of fear I asked my mentor Wesley Nyabaya to tell me what to say. His response was simple ‘if I give words to say, your voice ceases to be yours but rather mine.” Although I felt like he let me down I realized what he truly meant.
Today l ask myself, how many individuals in positions of influence are able to provide guidance to young people? How many of them give young people opportunities to openly share their minds without manipulating their voices? Young people should authentically speak and this promotes confidence and self-empowerment.
With talks like HLPF and other engagements in our communities sprout, it is vital for leaders to make an intentional effort to include and involve young people in every stage of the process and also for young people to take a responsibility to participate and show up.
Andromedah Naringo is a young Zimbabwean woman passionate about the enhancement of young people’s SRH rights and youth livelihoods. She holds an Honors Degree in Development Studies and is a volunteer at Youth Aspire Development Trust as the Youth Livelihoods Coordinator. Naringo strongly believes that development is only meaningful when young individuals are given access to opportunities and services to shape their futures.