The National Gender and Equality Commission joins other Kenyans to mark this year’s International Youth Day. This year’s theme titled ‘Safe spaces for youth” aims to promote youth engagement and empowerment by exploring the role of safe spaces in contributing to freedom of expression, mutual respect and constructive dialogue. Safe spaces include civic, public, digital and youth friendly physical avenues to amplify youth voices, concerns and ideas.
The Commission recognizes that youth need safe spaces where they can converge, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and to freely express themselves. Article 55 of the Constitution of Kenya provides that the State shall take measures including affirmative action programmes, to ensure that the youth have opportunities to associate, be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life.
The Commission therefore believes that the Government, the youth and the society have a role to play in the creation of real safe spaces for the youth. The Government should provide an enabling environment that is youth friendly in all spheres of society. It should enhance Youth Participation especially in governance so that they have a ‘voice’ to specify the ‘space’ they want and what ‘safety’ means for them. Of particular relevance in this matter is for the government to facilitate the revival of and to strengthen the operations of the National Youth Council and other Youth Associations to effectively articulate the needs of the youth in Kenya.
On their part, the youth should utilize their strengths in the areas of ICT to create viable businesses to supplement Government efforts to create job opportunities. Youth should also take advantage of the existing ICT infrastructure to pursue innovations and intensify the use of alternative media and social media platforms for information exchange.
An all-round collaboration is what will create true safe spaces for the youth to prosper and create a desirable future for this country.
Happy International Youth Day!
Comm. Dr. Florence Wachira, MBS
FOR THE COMMISSION