Youth in Kenya make for half the country’s population; it is, therefore, indispensable to have them heavily involved in the political processes of the country. The Centre for Multiparty Democracy convened bilateral meetings with the Youth leagues and party leaders of the various political parties. The meetings were geared towards strengthening youth participation in party politics as well as assessing annual progress. One of the long-term goals propelled by CMD-Kenya is youth involvement and inclusion in multiparty democracy. Youth representation has increased commendably in the political arena. It is clear that there’s a palpable impact being made by the vibrant youth in their various parties.
There is a need for dialogue among party members, aimed at creating a middle ground that enables understanding through enhancing cross-generational acceptance. It is worth noting that various milestones have been achieved across the board, which is a great step in the right direction. Ultimately, the youth and the party leaders had progressive discussions after which they concluded with amicable decisions and resolutions. With the tremendous progress made, much more is still in the works and a lot more to look forward to, from the youth leagues. Some of the challenges that were brought up include;
most youth leagues are experiencing a shortage of funds, a situation that has slowed down the progress of implementing planned activities and programs. Despite the setback, the proactive discussions led to specific solutions that would cater to the problem. Among the solutions agreed upon, is the support from party leaders. Party leaders concurred with one another to assist the youth with any available resources. They also agreed to solicit funds through party activities such as recruitment and selling of party merchandise.
Underrepresentation; among the issues brought up, underrepresentation of the youth at the secretariat was among them. Key decision-making processes need to involve the youth, the prospect of concentration is the lack of representatives who will firmly establish an active space for youth participation. Representation breeds a platform that allows for issues facing the grass root leaders be heard and prioritized. Party leaders promised to pursue those issues and create spaces for the youth to thrive in.
Undeterred by the challenges, there are several successes worth celebrating. Most parties have been able to use social media to reach a larger audience. Social media has also been used as a tool to tap into the younger generation that is seemingly politically impassive. Parties that have been associated with older generations have managed to rebrand and restructure their outlook to strengthen inclusivity. Several parties have conducted activities that were geared towards raising funds to facilitate party activities, these activities include goat eating gatherings and donor-funded projects.
Youth league constitutions have also been made to strengthen inter-party dialogue and create a framework of regulations that protect the interests of the party members. Various activities, such as county visits have been carried out to strengthen party politics ahead of the 2022 General elections. The meetings were successful and our hope is that they embody all the values and lessons learnt from each other and transform national and global politics.
Article by Valeria Mochere