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'We Matter': Kenyan young people analyze their current status and look to future

© UNICEF Kenya/2009/Kariuki
Kenya’s Assistant Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Wavinya Ndeti, presents the Youth Situation Analysis Report, subtitled 'We Matter', to the National Youth Representative Abdi, from North Eastern Province, as Director of Youth Affairs Julius Kubai looks on.

By Jayne Kariuki

NAIROBI, Kenya, 11 March 2010 – Kenyan young people have been given a say in the future of their country, following the divisive and violent riots that took place in the aftermath of the disputed 2008 elections.

Youth representatives recently had chance to speak out at the launch of Kenya’s National Youth Situation Analysis Report, subtitled ‘We Matter’.

The situation analysis was carried out in 2009 to address the diverse needs of the country’s large youth population, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention states that children and adolescents should participate – “according to their evolving capacities” – in decision-making on issues that affect their lives.

More than 1,000 young people came to the capital from all over Kenya for the launch event. Their songs, drama, poetry and dance filled the room; and their messages were loud and clear, as they eloquently defined their place in the country’s future.

Agents of social change
The post-election crisis of early 2008 – and the role young people played during the violence that engulfed Kenya – underlined the need for an analysis of the role they can play going forward. About half of all Kenyans are under 18 years of age. They are both a tremendous resource for national development and effective agents of sustainable social change.

“My Ministry will use the situation analysis report as a basis for youth development planners and partners to come up with new and far-reaching interventions in Kenya,” said Assistant Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Wavinya Ndeti.

UNICEF Representative in Kenya Dr. Olivia Yambi congratulated the 1,000 young people who contributed to the analysis. “UNICEF thanks you for targeting your efforts and energies into coming up with a report that outlines priorities and recommendations that best serve your interests,” she said.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0214/Cranston
In January 2008, an 11-year-old boy stands in front of the charred remains of the Kenya Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church, near the town of Eldoret, in Rift Valley Province, where post-election violence led to at least 17 deaths, mostly of children and women.

‘Gateways to our future’
Young people were unified in identifying the key issues that affect them: education, employment, quality health care, security, governance, gender equality and recreation.

Their joint statement outlined an optimistic, united view of the future:

“Nothing is predestined; the obstacles of our past can become gateways to our future. The views in this report are proof that we can break the ground; we have the will power, we are fired up and committed individuals, out only to make a difference in our country. Let it forever be known that our strength shall never again be used to destroy, but rather to build our nation.”



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