Written by: Patrick Mwesigye, AfriYAN ESA Vice President
About 100 plus vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic young people from across the African continent, gathered at the ICASA 2015 Youth Pre-Conference in Harare – Zimbabwe last week from the 27th to 28th of November 2015. In one particular session, young people were exposed to the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) Commitment, which was endorsed by our Ministers of Education and Health across the region in December 2013.
Learn more about the ESA Commitment here
We know that successful implementation and achievement of the ESA commitments targets must see young people at the center of planning, implementation and monitoring. But where do we begin?
As a partner in the ESA Commitment, the African Youth and Adolescent Network (AfriYAN) hosted a focused session on how we as young people need to come up with a plan for holding governments accountable, especially as we move into the end of year 2015 targets. We also know that in July 2016, our governments will be convening to discuss progress two years on.
AfriYAN members at the Pre-Youth Conference
This is our opportunity as young people to make meaningful contributions.
This is one of my passions – there is real power to youth-led accountability. You may be asking: well Patrick, what does this mean? It’s ensuring that our governments, such as mine in Uganda, act on what they promised – it’s as simple as that. However, we know government cannot do this without the collaboration amongst various ministries and partners, including (and most importantly) the young people they serve.
Tikhala Itaye speaking on accountability
Our participation and ACTION will contribute to making sure targets from the ESA Commitment are achieved. But how do we act?
We held a group work session where young people called for increased knowledge on accountability issues in order to have sufficient skills and knowledge to engage in the accountability processes at country level. Through our group work, we sighted out some actions that we want to engage in moving forward, including:
- Conducting surveys on young people’s thoughts on the quality of CSE and their ratings of youth-friendly health services in their communities. This is so we can have clear evidence where there may be gaps, challenges or successes that can then be presented to government.
- Running a social media accountability campaign on sexual and reproductive health issues – finding out what young people are saying online about their rights in sexual health facilities;
- Organizing dialogues and town hall meetings with leaders; and
- Signing petitions, among others.
This has begun great discussion among young people on a concrete plan of ACTION across Eastern and Southern Africa. The time to act is NOW.
Are you ready to act as a youth-led organization or young person? We will be posting a full action plan on this website shortly – please make sure to check back very soon!