Making Youth Participation Visible

As the #YSMANG advocacy continues to grow stronger, we wanted to hear young people speak more about their role as essential partners in national progress as well as about the challenges and hardships facing their world.

To achieve this, Education as a Vaccine in collaboration with its UNFPA’s Youth Social Media Advocates organised a webinar on International Youth Day on the theme ‘Youth Engagement: An Enabling Tool for National Progress’. “The theme of this year’s #IYD2020 seeks to address structures and framework which makes young people thrives in efficiency and fairness”, Fatimah Kagu said in her opening remark.

With more than half the world’s population under the age of 30, we know young people must be part of the solution. At EVA, we recognize that our success will come only if we harness the energy, talent, and opportunity in youth through partnership and participation.

We have only 10 years away from 2030, the conversation presented an opportunity to increase #YouthParticipation, including, involving the marginalised to realise national progress and the #SDGs.

Advocate Sani Mohammed who served as one of the speakers reminded the participants that Nigeria had a robust “population of young people who are uniquely positioned to effectively advocate for their issues and hold government accountable for the delivery of their promises, commitment, policies and programmes that affect young people’s lives. It is important that young people are now more than any other time in history well-positioned to take action to advocate for gender equality, good health and well-being”.

Young people in Nigeria still suffer systemic discrimination and are being side-lined. They face shared challenges that bother their health and well-being – lack of inclusion in designing and implementation of programs and poor health care delivery. This Impedes on their meaningful engagement in the economic and public policies’ spheres.

The panelists re-emphasise the need for policymakers to engage young people in intergenerational dialogue, by taping from their potential, bringing them to the table of discussion while designing policies and laws that reflect their lived realities. Hence, there is a need to bridge information and intergenerational gaps that exist. “It is manipulation for young people to be involved in the implementation of policies they were not involved in from the start”, Joyce Moral.

“Meaningful engagement is not tokenism. It is shared power; clear messaging; youth Inclusion; diversity”, Sani concluded.

In a similar event, EVA, in collaboration with Love Matters Naija commemorated the International Youth Day with an information-sharing meeting where we built the capacity of young people on how to be meaningfully engaged in life-saving and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) advocacy.

Young people are constantly faced with situations where they are tasked with making life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Yet, evidence shows that the majority of adolescents and young people lack access to information and services required to make those decisions, leaving them vulnerable sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancies, and even gender-based violence.

EVA runs 3 mobile (android) based applications (DIVA, Frisky and LinkUp) and a My Question and Answer Service developed for young people to access accurate and non-judgmental responses to SRH issues as well as find available youth-friendly facilities. We educated them about these apps- its usefulness especially during the pandemic; as well as sharing or disseminating with the apps with their apps their peers.

Other highlights of the event included a crash course on content creation and marketing and a Twitter storm where they advocated for their meaningful inclusion in decision-making processes.


Written By: Bayo Olanrewaju Ewuola