National Gender and Equality Commission

Statement on Commemoration of the International Youth Day

Kutetea usawa wa jinsia na haki za waliobaguliwa na kupuuzwa

STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL GENDER AND EQUALITY COMMISSION ON THE COMMEMORATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY– 12TH AUGUST, 2014

International Youth Day (IYD) is an awareness day designated by the United Nations. Its purpose is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The first IYD was observed on August 12, 2000.

The mandate of the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) is to promote gender equality and freedom from discrimination. Through audits, facilitation, monitoring, coordination and advisory functions, the Commission is responsible for continual integration of these principles in national and county policies, laws and administrative regulations in both public and private sector. NGEC’s target groups include youth, children, persons with disabilities, the elderly, women, and the marginalized and minority groups and communities.

 

In line with this year’s theme “Youth and Mental Health, NGEC stands in solidarity with all Kenyan youth in advocating for increased attention and allocation of adequate resources towards their mental well-being. Mental health as defined by WHO is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

As the principal organ responsible for ensuring compliance of State with the regional and international protocols, and overseeing the implementation of national laws and policies, relating to gender equality and inclusion, NGEC is mandated with the monitoring reports on progress Kenya has made to access Economic, Social and Cultural (ECOSOC) rights. 

The right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, as well as reproductive and access to emergency medical treatment is fully guaranteed in the 2010 Constitution article 43 1(a) and (2).

The United Nations principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care elaborate on such entitlements in the context of mental health and include the rights; to the best available care; to be treated with humanity and respect; to protection from exploitation, abuse and degrading treatment; to the same level of care as for physical illness; to community integration; periodic review of treatment and to liberty to access information.

An audit by NGEC to assess compliance with equality and inclusion principles in the delivery of drug rehabilitation services revealed that young men between the ages of 18 to 35 years are the most affected by addiction. A majority suffer from mental health conditions resulting from alcohol and drug abuse.  The addicts also face considerable stigma which serves as a major barrier to their seeking help.

Mental health conditions have a significant impact on the development of hundreds of millions of youth and their social and economic integration, including employability.  Given the numerous health issues affecting people in developing and low-resource countries, the issue of mental health has often been considered a low priority.

On this day and in commemoration of the International Youth Day, the National Gender and Equality Commission urges the National government to comply with Article 43 of the Constitution (2010) on the right to health and make mental health treatment free.  We also urge county governments to focus on improving the quality of health and especially to address the cultural dimensions of mental health.

Since drug and alcohol abuse are some of the factors affecting mental health of the youth, we urge the National Campaign against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse (NACADA) to ensure that county governments integrate preventive and rehabilitation programs in their development and investment plans.

NGEC shall continue to monitor and audit applications of affirmative actions on youth programs to ensure they are implemented and the youth are fully empowered.

Finally, the Commission urges parents and the community to be committed and supportive of initiatives aimed at improving the lives of the youth for they are the majority and the future leaders of our country Kenya.

WINFRED O. LICHUMA, EBS

CHAIRPERSON

NATIONAL GENDER AND EQUALITY COMMISSION


Statement on Commemoration of the International Youth Day

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