The Need for a National Youth Policy
A young Somali singer performs during Eid Al-Fitr celebrations at the Sayidka square in Mogadishu on July 17 2015. Credit: UN Photo/I. Ahmed
The development of the Somali National Youth Policy began in October 2014 with consultations at the UN Inter Agencies Stakeholders Forum in Nairobi, lead by UNFPA and UN HABITAT, upon request from the Federal Government of Somalia. The objective of the policy is to create a framework that will enable youth in Somalia to address issues that are unique to them and their communities through dialogue.
UN HABITAT recognizes that youth have a critical and active role to play in designing, planning and in implementing strategies that support national development and the participation of young people in the decision making process. Young people are particularly vulnerable to crime and violence both as victims and perpetrators, but they are also important resources in finding effective solutions. Thus government policies must involve children and youth as key stakeholders in their respective communities.
The formulation of the national youth policy as well as youth council structures strives to do just that by challenging these deficits through encouraging youth to actively participate in the social, economic and political spheres and by cultivating an environment for youth to exercise their democratic rights. The national youth policy provides a roadmap for youth development and for youth civic engagement by creating a platform for the youth to engage with their communities, political leaders and wise elders in inventing a new, informed, sustainable and participatory democratic paradigm through focused public debates, development prioritization and responsible leadership. It will also provide an avenue for experience sharing with other youth councils locally, nationally and internationally for best practices on democracy development and sustainability.
Recognizing the importance of youth civic engagement and the role that the national youth policy has in cultivating the political participation of all youth in their communities and society at large, UN HABITAT and UNFPA are supporting the process by ensuring that it is youth owned, youth led and youth managed.
It is also working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and other agencies under the Technical Team of Inter-Agencies on the National Youth Policy which is coordinated from Nairobi.
As emphasized by the former Minister of Youth and Sports; “The needs, opportunities and challenges facing the youth are concerns for the whole society. The aim of the Drafting of the Somali National Youth Policy is to ensure that youth issues are reflected in all sectors of national development, at both the micro and macro levels, within the public, private sectors and civil society, within an environment of equality, peace, democracy, access to knowledge, information, skills and a positive value system.
The youth should no longer be taught what to learn, but how to learn, not what they are committed to but rather the value of commitment, and they can no longer be termed as leaders of tomorrow. They must be seen as today's leaders.
As a Government we value the huge asset we have in young people and we firmly believe that they youth should be involved at all stages of planning as they have a right to participate in issues that affect their lives and to exploit their full potential. They also have responsibilities that must not be relegated to the older generations.” - Former Minister of Youth and Sports, Somalia during the Asker Conference in Norway 2014.