‘Youth & Local Govt Elections 2014’ activities kick off

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With funding from UNDP, the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) is carrying out a coordinated set of activities aimed at placing youth issues at the heart of local development agenda in the context of upcoming local government elections scheduled for December 2014. 

The activities outlined below are scheduled for August to December 2014 covering 20 districts across Ghana, and spearheaded by young people in the Voices of Youth Coalition.

Production of Youth Participation Toolkit

Learning from YES-Ghana’s practical experience in the field of youth work, and drawing from the experiences of other youth development programmes in Ghana and abroad, a Youth Participation Toolkit has been developed. The purpose of this toolkit is to provide guidance to youth leaders in carrying out their community actions for increased youth participation. The thematic sections of the toolkit highlight the concept of youth participation, its typologies and benefits, as well as barriers. The practical sections cover areas such as effective youth leadership, action planning, community mobilisation, coalition building, stakeholder facilitation, advocacy and lobbying, communications and public speaking etc.

Youth Participation Workshop

The Youth Participation Workshop scheduled for 22-25 October 2014 in Koforidua seeks to equip young men and women with the skills necessary to effectively engage in the local governance process and to undertake youth policy advocacy based on the provisions of the Ghana Youth Manifesto. Drawing on a carefully selected team of resource persons and based on the Youth Participation Toolkit with participatory youth-friendly learning approaches, the workshop will focus on critical thematic areas, including youth active citizenship, effective youth leadership, action planning, community mobilisation, coalition building, stakeholder facilitation, advocacy and lobbying, communications and public speaking, among others. The workshop will also provide a platform for youth leaders to share experiences and especially build friendships, synergies and collaboration towards a long-term networking and advocacy effort. By the end of the workshop, participants would develop action plans and advocacy initiatives for implementation in their communities, including hosting ‘District Youth Hearings’ and ‘Youth Dialogue with Assembly Member Candidates’.

Youth Hearings

Based on their participation in the Youth Participation Workshops and the new skills acquired, youth leaders will be supported to organise Youth Hearings – gatherings of mainly local youth providing rare opportunities for young people to exchange ideas and deliberate on development challenges of their districts and explore solutions for addressing them from a youth perspective. Using the Ghana Youth Manifesto as the benchmark, young people will prioritise common issues affecting them and agree on strategies for raising those issues as part of broader advocacy efforts for placing youth issues at the heart of the district assembly elections agenda. Participants of the Youth Participation Workshop will mobilise other youth from their districts and facilitate the hosting of these Hearings with broader support from the Voices of Youth Coalition.

Youth Dialogue with Assembly Member Candidates

This is an innovation and a rare opportunity for young people to have direct conversations with their prospective elected officials on key local development issues as compiled by young people. The purpose of these Dialogues is simple: to discuss the merits of the Ghana Youth Manifesto and seek its incorporation into the development agenda of the competing candidates. This is based on the understanding that, when the competing candidates buy-in, then it becomes easy for them to support the youth agenda if/when they win the election. Assembly member candidates will have the opportunity during the Dialogue to speak directly to local youth to state their youth agenda if they were to be elected. At the end of each Dialogue, candidates will be invited to sign a pact with the youth; a declaration of commitment to the youth course, to incorporate the Ghana Youth Manifesto into their respective development agenda. This pact will become the basis for future accountability and performance measurement.

Ultimately, these set of activities will bring hitherto missing youth voices to the forefront of local government and development processes, while empowering young people themselves to drive this process.