•Progress has also been made with information about sexual health and contraception becoming widely accessible through platforms like lifeyangu.com.
•However, despite this progress, decision-making within the healthcare sector does not prioritise the lived experiences of our youth.
Life is about transitions. In moments of transition, just like the General Election has brought us, I find it useful to carry out exercises in hope.
I think about the things that continue to bring us hope for a better future and nothing makes me more hopeful than the vibrant and creative youth of our diverse nation. They are passionately championing issues such as climate change, governance, and sexual reproductive health rights.
Yet, according to the 2021 UN Global Report on Ageism young people reported age-related barriers in accessing employment, political participation, health, and justice which in turn affected their livelihoods and wellbeing.
Today, we celebrate World Youth Day, whose theme is Intergenerational Solidarity. It is an important moment to look around our spheres of influence and seek out the voices of the youth.
Are they mere whispers or loud voices? If you are hearing murmurs and whispers, might you be the reason why their voices are not so loud? Are you resistant to the youthful wind of change blowing your way? Do you trust the youth around you?
A moment of self-reflection on this World Youth Day might just be what the country needs as we turn a new leaf and think about intergenerational solidarity.
Building intergenerational solidarity requires the recognition of youth agency and autonomy. It means accepting that they can make their own decisions and are capable of making decisions that relate to the well-being of our society as a whole.
When you go for driving lessons, you hope that you will eventually be able to drive a car someday. It is a skill that must be practised.
As a parent or guardian, you hope that by learning how to drive, the young person under your care can eventually drive themselves to whichever destination and even occasionally drive you around.
Intergenerational solidarity demands that we acknowledge this transition.
In recent times, we have seen stakeholders like Y-ACT (Youth in Action) centre youth voices in championing gender equality and sexual health and reproductive rights.
These youth activists have been bold and vocal on issues such as teenage pregnancy whose numbers continue to soar in the country.
They have creatively produced films like “Kutu” to be used as storytelling tools in tackling teen pregnancy.
Progress has also been made with information about sexual health and contraception becoming widely accessible through platforms like lifeyangu.com.
However, despite this progress, decision-making within the healthcare sector does not prioritise the lived experiences of our youth.
This often leads to conflicting policies by the very institutions charged with providing services to the youth.
Let’s not hand the youth the keys and then take away the car. If we do that, no progress will be made. When it comes to reproductive health, giving access to information without access to services is like preaching water and drinking wine.
By uplifting youth voices, we also learn how to effectively plug into issues affecting them.
In July, actor and comedian Njugush engaged male youth in conversations around gender-based violence and family planning in a 3-part series on YouTube called #Najali.
What ensued was an authentic conversation about how male youth could effectively engage in discourse to end gender-based violence and be part of planning their own futures by embracing family planning.
The authenticity of these conversations highlighted informational gaps that only youth would be able to identify. These are not conversations that should be held in isolation.
True intergenerational solidarity demands that where many are gathered, especially at a time when we are all glued to the screens watching our democracy grow, we take the time to engage each other in these conversations.
Take charge of the opportunity this election season has offered us. Listen and engage with the youth around you.
What are their views on matters of gender equality and family planning? What gaps can they identify? What creative and innovative solutions do they offer? Most importantly, what can you do to amplify their voices?
I believe in young people’s power to cultivate sustainable change, do you? It is time we accept that giving Kenyan youth the wheel is #Better4Kenya.
Dr. Stella Bosire, is a #Better4Kenya influencer, MD, Activist and Human rights advocate.