What is the reality for many youths in Malawi today?
I feel sad that most countries, including Malawi, classify youthful citizens as beginners or future leaders who do not need to get concerned with prevailing issues affecting them, their communities and the country.
The youth in Malawi are currently used by political parties to fight and wound members of the opposing camps during elections.
They are often used to silence critical voices and disturb efforts of the opposing side in political and governance debates.
This partly explains the low representation and participation of youth leaders in the formulation and implementation of laws and policies that govern them and affect their chances in life.
Youth participation is a critical priority. The situation in Malawi and many African countries have created conditions that hardly favour young people.
Some of the problems that impede the effective participation of the youth in public affairs are mainly to do with inequalities in the social, economic and political arena. One of them is the shortage of opportunities for education and training.
Additionally, the failure to respect the human rights of the youth as active citizens has created difficulties when it comes to youth participation in political leadership.
Poor or no access to quality healthcare services is a huge challenge. When it comes to HIV and Aids epidemic, the most affected age group are young people who have no limited access to the facilities and information about the epidemic and other diseases.
The talk about economic prosperity and good governance affect the welfare of not only the young people but the whole population.
The poverty levels that exist in Malawi and many African countries is directly affected by the prevailing social climate.
Levels of youth unemployment are so high that young people engage in vices that do not contribute to their well-being but put their lives and potential at risk.
Lack of quality education facilities has contributed to the increased levels of illiteracy among the youth, who constitute the majority of the population in Malawi and Africa.
This has derailed their participation in the development process of the country.
Government and stakeholders including young Malawians, need to realise that youth participation in the planning and implementation of the country’s development agenda is required now, not the future.
Stop chanting trite slogans. The youth are not leaders of tomorrow, but of today.
The people demand to play a major role in ensuring that the so-called “mentors” or “elders”, who want to cling to power or leadership positions that belong to all citizens, are held accountable for making policies that fail to empower the young majority.
It is for this reason that the youth need to strongly advocate for the so-called people’s government.
Young Malawians need a government that does not only sign international declarations and conventions for the sake of pleasing superpowers and the rest of the world, but domesticates and implements them so that leaders are made accountable for the services and enabling environments they do not provide.
Youth participation in socio-economic and civic development is vital for the development of any country.
Youth involvement is an important means to overcome disrespect and marginalisation of young people at a time the continent is experiencing a boom in the population of the youth.
When done rightly, youth participation can contribute to a positive change in society. n