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THE YOUTHS AS AGENTS OF CHANGE by Amina Adhan Ahmed

 
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever does. This is very true about the youths when they get committed. We have an important role to play as advocates of change. We are a powerful force that can be harnessed to advance change in Africa. We can bridge the gap by forming youth based organisations to address issues in our communities.

One of the many issues that needs to be addressed is achieving social justice. Social justice is all about achieving an egalitarian society where every individual or group is entitled to equal rights and opportunities. It is about eliminating discrimination based on sex, race, culture or any other affiliation. As a matter of fact, gender equality is among social justice issues that still needs much work. Although efforts have been put in by African Governments and Non-Governmental Organisations, the results are far from satisfactory.
The most important step is for attitudes to be changed if women issues are to be advanced. In some African Countries such as Kenya, discriminative laws against women have been scrapped. The constitution provides for affirmative action, outlaws harmful cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and promotes human rights. However, these good policies will remain words on paper if people are not aware of its existence and educated on its importance. Knowledge is the engine of social change; awareness will promote willingness to implement these policies.
Young people should be at the forefront of this attitude change campaign by organising community forums to create awareness of discriminatory practices against women and agitate for upholding of basic human rights for women. We need to read and comprehend the constitutions of our countries. This is imperative if we are to grasp our rights and expose the discriminatory laws against women because, when we identify and picket against discriminatory laws, society is bound to be transformed.
The youths should realise that they are important stakeholders in any society. The youths have been associated with the lack of wisdom, but that is only a myth. Young people understand the issues that are detrimental to their societies; we yearn to tackle challenges and are ready to strive to improve our conditions.  It is time we made our presence felt and vying for political power. With respect to women and political representation, it is up to young women to embrace affirmative action accorded by the constitution and take up these representative positions. With this, Kenya whose female representation is at 9.8% could attain admirable increase like Rwanda where women representation is at 56.3%.
Lastly, it is our responsibility as young people to steer our communities towards development. For a better tomorrow, let’s all come together and invest our efforts for Africa’s transformation to a thriving continent where the rights of all people are upheld.  
About the Writer: Amina Adhan Ahmed is a student of United States International University in Kenya. She is pursuing a degree in International Relations concentrating on Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in French. She is a member of the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development (YALDA) and the co-founder and deputy director of Young Muslim Women’s Initiative; a youth led non-profit organisation whose main goal is to empower young muslim women to improve their socio-economic conditions through vocational skills training. She says, ‘I am passionate about community development and I believe that for any community to prosper, girls and women have to be educated, empowered and granted opportunities at all levels.’

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