Strengthening constructive and active youth engagement in civic processes in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe, once a vibrant and dynamic society, has undergone various socio-economic challenges over the past two decades, with huge impacts on its population and especially on youths. Young people constitute over 60% of the population in Zimbabwe and are affected by an 80% unemployment rate (UNDP, 2016). Despite the existence of progressive policies and laws, which present opportunities for youth to contribute towards democratic processes, there is limited participation of young people in national and local decision-making processes. Currently, active youth engagement is mainly at the symbolic level, and in some cases young people are used by political and economic elites as vehicles of violence. Limited participation of young people in policy, civic and democratic processes, coupled with their exclusion from decision making positions negatively impacts their capacity to constructively engage with policy makers and government decision makers about everyday socio-economic needs, leading to spates of youth protests and violence.
The research will be conducted in two provinces in Zimbabwe, (Masvingo and Mashonaland West) and will examine how active youth engagement and participation in civil and policy processes could contribute to strengthening governance and promoting inclusive and peaceful development processes. The project will identify potential mechanisms through which government actors can tap into the expertise and experiences of youths for more constructive and inclusive civic and policy processes. Recommendations from the project will target local and national policy makers (and to an extent global actors) on what strategies work to effectively create spaces for youth to participate in civil and policy processes. They will also be used to strengthen the implementation of existing policies that seek to promote young people’s engagement in policy, civic and democratic processes. The capacity building component will strengthen young people’s capacity to effectively interface with decision makers and resist adversity and violence.
This project comprises of action research, capacity building and advocacy and will be implemented by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT). YETT is a civil society organization based in Zimbabwe, whose mandate is to strengthen and support a more active and meaningful youth participation in civic and, democratic, socio-economic and political processes at the local and national level.