Youth Assemblies is a concept initiated in Mombasa, Kenya, which engages youth to take an active part in driving peaceful, democratic change in a society prone to insecurity. The concept builds on local mechanisms for dialogue and works through consultative parliamentary sessions, where issues of concern for the youth at the grassroots are brought forward. Issues identified are presented to targeted stakeholders, and results are reported back to the youth assemblies. The work and methodology developed is unique, and encourages holding the government and stakeholders accountable, youth raising their voices and taking their place in society – as well as building and encouraging a culture of democracy.
Mombasa Youth Assembly (MYA)
MYA is an initiative from youth in Mombasa, who felt excluded from society and that their voices were not heard. MYA builds on local mechanisms for dialogue and works through using parliamentary sessions. Starting a policy cycle with a consultative phase through Ward Baraza (most localized level of public fora organized at village level) where issues of concern for the youth at the grassroots are brought forward to the MYA plenary meeting. Key decision-makers and media often attend and observe the plenary, as it has become a constructive venue for dialogue in Mombasa county. In the plenary, resolutions, action points and recommendations are developed and adopted by the MYA. They are then forwarded to their respective local, county or national actors, stakeholders and duty bearers. To complete the policy cycle, MYA reports back to the youth at local level on progress and results.
Based on the success of MYA, the Oslo Center has received requests for Youth Assemblies in other counties in Kenya. The Oslo Center is currently supporting a project funded by Diakonia to establish the Youth Assemblies in Kwale and Lamu counties. The overall goal of the program is to assist youth in Kwale and Lamu County to identify local issues and solutions and influence county decision-makers to find and implement solutions to their long-standing grievances. The aim of the program is to increase the youth’s experiece of being heard and see the effects and results of the issues as they are brought to attention in the local communities. This is achieved by assisting in the establishment of Youth Assemblies in Kwale and Lamu County, using lessons learned and practical experiences from Mombasa Youth Assembly. This funding also allows the Oslo Center to continue assisting the Mombasa Youth Assembly and enhance the training capacity of MYA to strengthen south-to-south learning.
The Oslo Center is presenting the concept Youth Assemblies at the Paris Peace Forum in November 2019.