Youth from over a dozen Kenyan counties are meeting with policymakers to share We Are Kenya’s Future: Young People and Our Nation’s Growth and to push for increased commitments to young people’s health, including sexual and reproductive health, education, economic opportunity, and participation. With support from the PACE Project, several leaders have strengthened their commitment to young people’s access to family planning and to their overall development: expanding access to long-acting family planning methods, including demographic dividend language in policy documents, and inviting youth to join policy deliberations where a youth voice was previously lacking.
On Sept. 19, 2017, We Are Kenya’s Future: Young People and Our Nation’s Growth officially launched in Nairobi, Kenya during a co-hosted event with Population Reference Bureau, Centre for the Study of Adolescence (CSA), and National Council for Population and Development (NCPD). The event showcased youth voices on the demographic dividend and created space for meaningful dialogue between policymakers and young people. Kenya has demonstrated how political leadership can define and build consensus for measurable policy actions to propel the country towards a demographic dividend, as is shown through Kenya’s Demographic Dividend Roadmap, which was presented during the event.
Likewise, Kenya’s youth champions for a demographic dividend have shown that youth leaders can play a critical role in informing policymakers which investments in young people are needed for a future demographic dividend to be realized.
Increasingly, when youth advocates articulate their needs, policymakers listen.
The PACE Project has trained over 40 young people in Kenya this year on how to communicate with policymakers on this complex subject. And our commitment to strengthening youth voices on the demographic dividend is yielding results:
“It has been a transformative journey. [Before the PACE training] I didn’t have confidence to reach policymakers, but through the training I was able to meet with the County Executive Committee for Kericho County… and the Governor. [I got] commitment, in writing and verbally, [that they would] develop a local reproductive health policy for the county to work towards achieving the demographic dividend.”
—Hilda Chepkirui, youth demographic dividend champion from Kericho County, Kenya, paraphrased from a speech made during the Sept. 19, 2017 launch event
Chepkirui’s impact in Kericho County is just one example of how Kenya’s youth are using innovative advocacy tools and tailored advocacy messaging to engage with policymakers and make a difference.
Events like the one on September 19 demonstrate that young people are effective advocates for change, if given the right tools and the opportunity. As Sheenan Mbau of CSA framed it during the launch event:
“There’s no one who has so much energy and so much vigor as young people…[we are] the highest untapped asset that Kenya has.”
Learn more about this event in a blog post from CSA, one of PRB’s strongest partners in Kenya.