Despite the rhetoric describing youth as “leaders of today and tomorrow”, there are strikingly low levels of youth participation in public policy decision-making in Ghana.
Young people remain at the periphery of socio-economic processes and governance structures, without recognition as social stakeholders with specific interest.
The root cause of this problem include inadequate (and sometimes the lack of) appropriate channels and opportunities for young people to engage at all levels of decision-making.
Without the necessary structures and political space for galvanising youth input into national policy formulation, the voices of youth are often excluded. At YES-Ghana, we are committed to providing opportunities for all young people to contribute to and benefit from national development.
Young people are entering different sectors of the Ghanaian economy in large numbers, putting immense pressures on government to wake up and face new challenges, including the increased need for jobs and livelihoods.
They are faced with social and economic disparities, high levels of unemployment and rapidly deteriorating standards of living which reveal the heavy toll that unemployment and underemployment takes on young people, their families and communities through economic hardship, human suffering, social exclusion and loss of production.
Yet, experience shows that when given the opportunity, young people can be intrepid innovators, productive workers, successful entrepreneurs, active union members, and valued customers. The challenge for all stakeholders therefore is to generate sufficient opportunities for all youth to use their talents, experience and aspirations – doing so under conditions of freedom, security, equality and human dignity.
At YES-Ghana, we are committed to working with government, private sector and all relevant stakeholders to provide productive and sustainable livelihoods in both formal and informal sectors of the Ghanaian economy for young people from all parts of the country.
At YES-Ghana, we believe that youth issues are better addressed when they are integrated into broader national development policies and programmes rather than as stand-alone initiatives. Evidence shows that excluding youth from national development policies and governance structures could demoralise them, undermine social cohesion and lead to social problems such as crime, drug abuse, vandalism, and general alienation in the vicious circle of poverty.
The frustrations of youth have in the past provided excuses for adventurers to derail the process of democratisation as was evident in Ghana’s own political history, and also in conflict ravaged countries in the West African sub-region.
Thus, any policy for social, political and economic development in Ghana must recognise the importance of youth in promoting social progress, reducing political tension and maximising economic performance.
At YES-Ghana, we are committed to working with government and all relevant stakeholders, including youth themselves, to develop youth-inclusive policies and programmes at local and national levels.