2.0 HARNESSING DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND THROUGH INVESTMENT IN YOUNG PEOPLE
At the African Union, 2017 theme is ; “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in the Youth” presents an opportune moment in the “Africa Rising” narrative in the context of Africa’s development blueprint “Agenda 2063. ” The narrative presents impetus to seize the moment; to engage and tap into the potential presented by African youth estimated to be over 65% – a constituency that can surely not be ignored in Africa’s vision for the future.
Young people exist in a spectrum of diversity which should inform programming and policy making. Ahead of the 28th African Union Summit, Dandelion Kenya through the youth sexual reproductive health and rights/HIV network hosted a youth meeting that supported by the Torchlight Collective to lead discussions on the needs, priorities and concerns of young people and to enhance young people’s understanding of the demographic dividend theme.
The theme is based s based on 2017 African Union Roadmap on Harnessing Demographic Dividend; a four pillar AU Road map on demographic dividend aimed at spelling out the critical areas of investments for African governments if the continent is to realize the promise of demographic dividend. The 4 pillars; employment, health, education and governance/civic participation. These 4 pillars guided the discussions
On governance, young people’s priorities and needs are that they be able to participate meaningfully especially in decision making and policy. It only makes sense when young people make decisions on matters youth and issues that affect their lives.
On education, young people felt that it is very crucial to invest in holistic education interventions including comprehensive sexuality education and also the introduction of life skills education which would support students to prepare for job market needs ahead of completing their education. Affordable and quality education was a key ask also since it will enable both boys and girls stay in school.
On job creation, rebranding of blue collar jobs and encouraging the use of technology among the youth is key in job creation.
Governments should invest in advancement of technology to create jobs and widen the market space through tapping onto digital markets. This should however recognize the digital divide driven by socio economic status, gender and other factors
Investing in health including sexual and reproductive health and rights . When birth rates decrease then we can easily achieve demographic dividend. One of the major asks was allocation of enough funds for contraception access for young people and investment in youth friendly centers that give information on SRHR and also services.
Improving Maternal Health including safe abortion advocacy
Dandelion Kenya is a founder and member of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights Alliance Kenya hence has engaged extensively with abortion advocacy sub regionally, nationally, regionally & globally. This is through working in coalitions to build skills, knowledge and mobilizing actions on policy and legal reforms (Reproductive health care bill, challenging the withdrawal of the guidelines on reduction of maternal mortality, countering abortion stigma through public awareness and campaigns on September 28th. Also is advocacy around the Helm’s amendment- led the letter to President Obama Ahead of his visit to Kenya and use of social media to drive policy discussions on abortion. Dandelion Kenya has cross learning initiatives for safe abortion advocates on approaches to tackling abortion stigma and enabling access This is one of our major area of work as an organization. Through trainings in Nakuru County where we focus on young women, we have led learning processes on what safe abortion is and what the constitution of Kenya says on termination of pregnancy. This includes building champions among young people especially young women
A&Y SRHR/HIV Network
This is a collective of organizations of 24 youth led organizations working on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. The collective is aimed to drive coordinated advocacy to champion adolescents and youth SRHR and HIV issues under the #Youth4SRHR umbrella
The network engaged in January African Union summit, national advocacy on SDGs and is currently following through on Kenya’s CEDAW review process.
#SRHRDialogues SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN PLATFORM
Figure 4 Leveraging on #SRHRDialogues platform to engage SRHR policy maker champions and leverage on partnerships with community media platforms
Social media is a crucial tool for advocacy because of the opportunity presented to reach audiences that are difficult to reach or passive yet insightful during physical meetings. Social media also provides the opportunity to ensure that discussions and meetings are not limited by geographical barriers. #SRHRDialogues is a social media campaign conceptualized to create various online dialogues on health issues and especially Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. The campaign ensures ease in tracking online audience and especially Kenyan advocates on social media advancing SRHR.