Article    10th May, 2018

Policy and Legislative Influence by Youth CSOs through the Parliamentary Forums

Young Parliamentarians Forums are emerging as sustainable platforms for cultivating leadership and facilitating policy engagement between citizens and elected representatives.

by Emmanuel Kitamirike

Young Parliamentarians Forums are emerging as sustainable platforms for cultivating leadership and facilitating policy engagement between citizens and elected representatives. At the World Movement for Democracy’s 9th Assembly, the Public Policy Institute’s Executive Director, Emmanuel Kitamirike was invited by YIAGA AFRICA, with support from the Ford Foundation to this side event for cross border engagement on promoting democracy and inclusive governance through the establishment of young parliamentarians’ forums in parliaments in Africa. Participants discussed and explored the tools and frameworks YIAGA AFRICA has developed on promoting democratic renewal through improved citizens and state relations. The side event was organized to achieve the following objectives;

  1. Promote the establishment of young parliamentarians’ forums in parliaments in Africa as an instrument of enhancing legislative accountability, civic participation and leadership development;
  2. Expose participants to strategies and approaches for establishing forums/networks of young legislators using case studies and models in Africa;
  3. Facilitate exchanges on rebuilding citizen’s trust and faith in democratic institutions through strategic engagement;

The event primarily targeted leaders of civil society organizations and youth groups involved in democratic governance, legislative engagement, and community development in Africa. Young people in leadership positions especially young parliamentarians attending the World Movement for Democracy 9th global assembly attended.

From the discussions, it emerged that formation of youth forums in parliaments is a critical process for providing entry points for youth CSOs’ policy and legislative advocacy. Nigeria, Ghana and Gambia are countries that are following in the footsteps of Uganda to establish youth forums in their national parliaments. It however emerged that youth forums in parliament like the case in Uganda are not a silver bullet to getting youth specific policy and legislative issues addressed. While the Youth Forum in Uganda’s Parliament is an important space for policy and legislative discourses, recent processes have shown that the forum has no safeguards against political patronage and quite often gets immersed into mainstream political processes at the detriment of the youth cause.

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