Why youth empowerment should be deliberate, intentional and structured

In December 2020, we hosted our inaugural YouTH Voices Summit in partnership with Health NGO’s Network (HENNET), Phillips Therapeutics Limited, Youth-In-Action (Y-ACT), Quality Healthcare Kenyan Awards (QHKA) and Portcross Limited. YouTH Voices Summit is an initiative aimed at amplifying youth voices in a transformative agenda for health and their wellbeing. The summit featured mentors and youth changemakers driving action in their communities to create a difference. This was a light bulb moment for us that youth empowerment other than being considered good to do, is a driver for development in our communities which needs to be approached as such, an investment in our communities.

During her keynote speech, Ms. Evalin Karijo the Project Director, Y-ACT highlighted some great feats she had witnessed in her space working with young people but at the same registered her qualms that most of this never gets to public discourse. She made it clear that it was time for the youth to take action and drive an agenda for their communities because they know better what challenges they face and mechanisms of solving them. To achieve this it was made clear that there is an impetus to empower the youth to deliver on their passions with impact and be granted access to platforms to express themselves as well as give account of their work.

Kenya as any other African country has a bulge in its youth population coupled with dwindling prospects in employment both in the formal and informal sector. From surveys we conducted, it was evident that young people need mentorship support and guidance to tap into their ingenuity while creating value in their communities. This is a key driver on which we’ve taken time in the last month to reflecting, researching and programming appropriately to address the gaps in building the potential of the youth. Through this, the strategic interventions we’ve identified are:

  1. Training: Young people need skills on how to present themselves, their ideas, their work and key project management & social competencies in order to grow and perform. Lack of these skills puts most youth at a disadvantage as was reflected in the account by Joy Ogingo, Resource Mobilization Lead for Great Daughters of Nyakach who presented the challenge they face in training young ladies in the rural communities where they work when they themselves lack the requisite training to deliver better. This acts as a drawback to their work and derails progress made in addressing certain social concerns like teen pregnancies. It’s evident that skills development and acquisition is of essence not only in the social sector but in the entire scope of work spanning formal employment, social work, informal employment and even in entrepreneurship as success is dependent on ability to deliver competently on tasks assigned.
  2. Mentorship: Skilled youth need guidance and support in putting these skills to use. This is featured as a critical missing piece as most youth programmes offer trainings to young people but fail to hold their hands in putting these skills to use. The cost of this is that according to the law of use and disuse, these skills get lost in the course of time and thus the training doesn’t deliver on its expected outcomes. In order to make good in our commitments to youth empowerment, we need to hold the hands of our brothers and sisters to enable them understand how to apply their skills and establish a footing before letting them stand on their own.
  3. Networking: The key strength and attribute that human beings have is the ability to establish networks and cooperate in these networks in an organized manner to achieve specific outcomes. Having access to meaningful networks to spark your thinking and creativity is a driver for personal development and improved performance/productivity. However, most young people lack access to such facilities and networks thus the associated opportunities are also missed. With access to such networking platforms youth intellect and curiosity is put to test thus opening doors to new opportunities and collaborations enabling them realize their potential.
  4. Platforms: Driving meaningful systemic change processes call for structure networks and formations that make coordination of such movements possible. Access to a platform that builds on an individuals’ commitment to excellence in a particular course nurtures their belief system propelling them to achieve greatness. Unfortunately, there aren’t many structured and coordinated platforms open for the youth to leverage on in driving their agenda for a better society. This is a drawback especially when it comes to advocating for and guiding conversations around matters affecting the society and especially the youth. It’s important to amplify the voices of the youth in their different pursuits and align them to the good of the society by enabling them to speak up and take action on matters that matter to them.

Strategically and intentionally focusing on youth empowerment with a focus on the ultimate returns, it stops being an expense but an investment. This is why we have to deliberately and consciously make the move.

In February, we’ll be launching our YouTH Voices Network admissions anchored on these principles and value propositions as we focus on the future we wish for our communities; a healthy and prosperous one. The programme is in two categories (a). Individual Youth Participants and (b). Youth leaders, Young founders, Social entrepreneurs and Project leaders. If interested in being part of the programme, send us an email to info@ryculture.org specifying the track you are interested in. (Limited slots available)

Ps. There is a small investment involved depending on the category you choose.

*YouTH – Youth Transformation Hub

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