Young people voice their views on Rwanda’s development
Over 36,000 Rwandan youths cast their votes on development issues
by Arpana Pandey
14 June 2013 - Innovation and action were the leading themes on display at the “My World, Our Actions, Our Future,” workshop where youth discussed Rwanda’s post-2015 development agenda and came up with creative solutions to address the country’s most pressing problems. The workshop, a part of the ‘My World Survey’ (the United Nations global survey which asks individuals to vote on the six development issues that most impact their lives), engaged youth on Rwanda’s top priorities which were identified by the survey. The objective: to transform the ideas of youth into actions led by young people.
UNICEF teamed up with NGO partner Educat to organize the three-day dynamic and action oriented workshop. Twenty-three Rwandan youth between the ages of 16-25 (12 girls and 11 boys) were selected based on ideas they expressed in their application and through a phone interview. Following a refresher presentation on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the My World Survey, the youth were asked to form groups and further develop some of the best ideas proposed in their applications. They spent two days developing and testing these ideas. On the final day, the groups presented their thoughts to a high level panel of policy makers comprised of Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, senior representatives from the UN, and the Rwandan Development Board. Ideas presented by the youth included forming a student based savings cooperative and involving youth in awareness building around disease prevention.
Drawing upon umuganda, Rwanda’s tradition of involving community in public service works and social development issues, one group sought to address water shortages that take place in the eastern part of the country. “We’ll mobilize local and youth leaders to contribute to building water tanks through umuganda,” noted Gustave Uwizeye, a civil engineering student at the Kigali Institute for Science and Technology. Another group proposed the idea of launching a project called Ni Njewe, or “Me” in English. “Change begins from within, with oneself, our project will encourage youth to take ownership of social development,” Linda Umwali remarked.
Rwanda is on track to meet most of the MDG targets, particularly in the areas of universal education, health and gender equality, but there is still more to be done in the area of poverty eradication. Given that approximately 64 percent of Rwanda’s population is under 25 years (Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, 2010), youth participation in development and the prioritization of youth issues such as economic empowerment is essential to ensure that Rwandan youth reach their full potential and that Rwanda is able to reap significant rewards from the demographic dividend.
At the closing, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT reiterated his support for the workshop and the importance of youth involvement, “I appreciate and support the collaborative effort from Educat and UNICEF to bring the global My World Survey into action and encourage Rwandan youth to develop concrete ideas that could help shape the future development agenda in Rwanda and beyond. Youth participation in Rwanda is key in bringing the country forward, and this initiative provides youth with the tools to take action and be change makers in their communities and in their country.”
About the My World Survey in Rwanda