In line with Section 20 of the Zimbabwe Constitution and the Zimbabwe Youth Policy; that young people should participate in political, social, economic and cultural development of our country, ActionAid in Collaboration with The National Association of Youth Organisation (NAYO) held the Inaugural Conference of ActivistaZimbabwe on the 2nd of June 2017 at MANDEL Training Centre, in Harare.
ActivistaZimbabwe is part of ActionAid International’s global youth network involving more than 250 ActionAid partners and thousands of volunteers in more than 25 countries. NAYO is the youth sector representative and umbrella board for youth in Zimbabwe. It was indeed a big day as in line with the Conference theme, “Youth Solidarity Power” the event brought together 100 vibrant young people that are effecting positive change in their communities from all the 10 provinces to share experiences, strategize, plan, learn about Activista and together envision ActivistaZimbabwe highlighting the important principle of the inclusion/ inclusiveness.
ActivistaZimbabwe is a platform for youth to actively engage in solidarity and coordinate their voice through mobilization and campaigning at local, national and international levels - working to empower young women and men to have voice, agency and actively participate in decision making on issues that affect their lives. Such activism in Social Justice matters will assist the Zimbabwean youth to lobby for concrete empowerment and inclusion mechanisms that enable young people to utilize, develop their skills and have decent work for a Youth Development strategy that is line with Zimbabwe economic policies in order to allow practical ways of dealing with youth challenges such as unemployment, lack of participation in policy, suppression of freedoms among other.
ActionAid’s acting Country Director Adele Manuel welcomed the guests and gave a key note speech reiterating the need for young people to be determinants of their own future stressing that young people are drivers of social transformation globally and indeed young people in Zimbabwe should take the mission forward. She doubly underscored the Feminist Leadership approach stressing that everybody has the ability and power to effect social change whether male/female old or young hence young people should take centre stage in issues affecting them. Activista youth network is about team work. As ActionAid, we see a world full of young people who are drivers of social change; our core role is to provide innovative trainings and capacity development for young people to lead social, political and economic change around the world. Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also drivers of change today.
Despite having a well documented Youth Policy, Zimbabwe seems to be lacking in urgency in freeing up spaces for youth voices and activism to reclaim their space in social justice so to harness the benefits associated with investing in young people as compared to other countries. Youth are often referred to as “leaders of tomorrow’ but on closer inspection , that tomorrow never come” Indeed it is high time that young people take centre stage and become their own torchbearers in issues affecting them such as exclusion, marginalisation, youth unemployment and vulnerability. The approach being centred on youth in a context of an African demographic trend where for decades the youth have been the forgotten generation, with their voices as young people muted, agonising rather than organising creating major demographic challenges for young people in terms of migration, security and employment. It is very evident that investing in the young generation of today is a way to harvest tomorrow’s peace, democracy, stability, security and sustainable development.
MacDonald Munyoro, NAYO’s National Coordinator reaffirmed that as the youth we have been agonising for too long but the end to our lies in action hence ActivistaZimbabwe. He applauded ActionAid for taking young people on board and availing such a platform to Zimbabwean youths to empower and ensure that the youths are brought to the mainstream of economic and development with a key focus on supporting youth and improving their future prospects in employment and entrepreneurship, supporting effective education, vocational training, skills development, and access to digital technologies and services and lastly strengthening youth empowerment and participation in local economies, societies, and decision making.
He underscored that young people should be at the forefront in driving and spearheading programmes that affect us as young people and are of value to us so as to unlock our potential. Youth should be given space to build networks for social intercourse and cross pollination of ideas to drive programmes because together our voice grows stronger. Therefore, the ActivistaZimbabwe presents both an enormous opportunity to stimulate and ensure youth engagement and participation in achieving an inclusive and sustainable future, where no one is left behind.
To broaden the scope of the intervention a national coordinating committee was established. The task force is steer-headed by the National Coordinator Ms. Thando Gwinji who has more than 6 years of working with young people in and around Zimbabwe. The committee also includes, The Secretary, Public Relations Officer and 10 key provincial representatives.
Aside from the informative and inspiring sessions at the Conference, popular chanter Killer-T, a youth in the Zimdancehall industry was invited to provide entertainment and left many asking for more.
I am a young leader, youth advocate, social entrepreneur and human rights champion. I am also the Advocacy and Communications Officer at Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network. I write in my personal capacity as a freelance journalist and ActivistaZimbabwe network member. Can be contacted at the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively +263775265509.