On the occasion of the 2018 International Youth Day, which falls on August 12, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) calls on the government of Ghana to consciously expand and deepen the participation of the youth in national decision-making processes and on issues that affect their lives.
This year’s theme –“Safe spaces for youth” — provides yet another avenue to reimagine the current state of spaces – civic, digital, physical and public – available to the youth, and how safe they are in helping to nurture talents, encourage free expression of ideas and promote participation in decision-making processes.
The celebration is particularly important at this time as there is a clamor for not just the voice of the youth to be heard, but for the youth to be given increased opportunities to take an active part in decision making processes.
Ghana is gradually heading towards a youth bulge, with estimates from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicating that more than one-third (39%) of the population fall within the age range of 15 – 24 years. While it may be viewed from a negative perspective, particularly on unemployment and crime, it offers the opportunity to harness the developmental potential of the youth to drive societal change. Inadequate credible platforms or opportunities for youth to participate in public or government decision-making that directly affects their lives is one issue stifling youth development in Ghana.
As revealed in the 2017 Afrobarometer survey (Round 7) results, six in 10 (60%) of Ghanaians in the youth category (18 – 35 years), compared to one in 10 (10%) of the elderly (56 years and more), indicated a desire to get together with others to raise an issue if they had the chance. This finding is very encouraging. However, and similarly, 62% of youth noted they had not attended any community meetings in the previous year but would like to attend if they had the chance.
These revelations suggest inadequate opportunities for the youth to engage authorities with like-minded persons on issues that affect them.
As a way of showing continuous support and commitment to making available, safer spaces for youth development, CDD-Ghana calls on the government and other state actors to credibly engage and get the youth to participate in various on-going national development policy debates and policy formulation processes, such as Ghana Beyond Aid.
CDD-Ghana specifically encourages the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Youth Authority and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to develop and/or strengthen opportunities for young people to learn their rights and responsibilities, promote their social, political, developmental and environmental participation, removing obstacles that affect their full contribution to society and respecting, inter alia, freedom of association.
Finally, as we join hands with Ghanaian youth to commemorate this day, the Center reminds the youth of their responsibilities as the future leaders of the country. We encourage the Ghanaian youth to take advantage of every available opportunity to gain knowledge, enhance their capacity and make positive contributions towards the development of the nation.