• As we get into the electioneering period, it is imperative for the incoming government to commit to act on young people's demands.
• Sadly, our political leaders say the right things all the time and do the wrong things most of the time.
For the last four months, I have been part of the technical working group drafting the Kenya Youth Manifesto that was subsequently launched late in the week. The Kenya Youth Manifesto 2022 was created out of a series of discussions and consultations that began with forty political and civic youth leaders from across the country during the National Youth Summit 2022.
The political and civic youth leaders, through a human-centered design approach, persona creation, and focus group discussions (FGD), created a persona of their constituents based on the four distinct age categories given (15-18 years, 19-24 years, 25-29 years, and 30-35 years) on a template that highlighted the practical needs of target youth removing all preconceived bias. Consequently, my team built its content from existing literature through rigorous research and aligned the manifesto to existing policies and legal instruments.
Key to this was the Kenya National Youth Policy 2019 that visualises a society where youth have an equal opportunity as other citizens; to realise their full potential, by productively participating in economic, social, political, cultural and religious engagement equitably. This from the understanding that politics has a vantage point over all other human interests. As Kwame Nkrumah would say, first conquer the political kingdom and all others shall be added unto ye.
As we get into the electioneering period, it is imperative for the incoming government to commit to act on young people's demands. Sadly, our political leaders say the right things all the time and do the wrong things most of the time. As political promises that will directly impact young people's future are being made during this campaign period, the key actors ought to listen to and identify the most pressing needs of this generation if they have to get it right this time round.
The 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC) estimates that the population aged 35 years and below accounts for 75 per cent of Kenya’s population. This demographic structure can be either a valuable dividend or a risk to development (UNDP, 2013). When appropriately tapped into, such a demographic structure presents a “demographic dividend” that would contribute to the realization of the UN Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
From discussion across the nine regions, it was clear that the Kenyan youth are concerned about the insufficient attention lent to youth related issues in national development policies and the lack of adequate structures for effective youth participation in the various sectors of Kenya’s development. They are appalled, disillusioned and dissatisfied by the aggravating conditions of inequality, injustice, discrimination, poverty, indignity, hardship, deprivation and exclusion of the rural and urban poor from consultative and collaborative development.
As a valuable dividend, young people should be involved as actors in their own right throughout the stages and processes of our nation’s development. This has created a deliberate effort by many stakeholders to invest in young people for their improved well-being and livelihoods and the growth of their economic, social and cultural aspects, without which this would result in a risk to development and societal values.
Concisely, there is absolute recognition that as young people, we bear the solemn responsibility of positioning ourselves as formidable and trusted actors in the development process and have unparalleled potential to contribute to the same with optimism of progressive ascendency into leadership.
International Republican Institute being a strategic partner of the Kenyan youth have recognized this valuable asset bestowed on young people as vital for the continued development of the societies in which they live. I believe that investing in the youth is a precondition for accelerated inclusive growth and sustainable development. This can only be achieved by actively involving young people in political processes affecting their livelihoods and future prospects and expanding opportunities for youth to participate in, and benefit from, our nation’s development.
Through the Kenya Youth Manifesto 2022, we the youth rededicate ourselves to the struggle for a just, accountable, transparent, independent, democratic, peaceful and gender-equal society and pledge to uphold, promote and protect our National Ethos both at peer and inter-generational levels of our society. We verily acknowledge that these National Ethos are the key pillars to good governance and sustainable development.
In this, we are determined to support inclusive national development initiatives as a basis for effective political and economic transformation. And the Kenya Youth Manifesto 2022 is definitely the Kenya North Pole to a united, cohesive and prosperous nation that the political class need to embrace.