Despite the fact that Kenyan youth constitute the biggest chunk of politically mobilized people during elections, youth - and women as well - are unable to harness power within important political institutions. They continue to encounter hostility, elitism, limited political space, stereotypes and negative perception within political hierarchies. Most are relegated to party youth and women leagues with no budget and no meaningful place in decision making organs.
Those who make it into the party lists owe their success to closeness to the power brokers and what they have been able to deliver to the political party elites. Indeed, corruption, mismanagement of funds and lack of accountability exist in almost all party structures despite the coming into force of the Political Parties Act of 2012. The primaries held for the national elections 2013 provide ample evidence for the incumbents’ intentions and capabilities to lock out young party activists. Internal power struggles have been a major hindrance to the growth of political parties in Kenya and have interfered with national development. Hence, strengthening the political leverage of youth is intimately linked to effective reforming the political parties.
Together with various partners, FES is carrying out interventions that are designed to address these concerns:
The Political Leadership and Governance Programme (PLGP): The Political Leadership and Governance Programme (PLGP) emanates from FES’ renowned Political Leadership Development Programme (PLDP). The PLDP was designed as a special intervention to create a new political leadership culture in Kenya and this it has done with significant success. Like its predecessor, the PLGP seeks to nurture and promote value-driven leadership for good governance in a democratic society. The focus this time will be political parties. The programme aims to assist young members as reformers and leaders of political parties Thus it targets young men and women who are already engaged in political party work.
Young activists are provided with skills relevant for leadership at all levels within the party structures. The training will also offer an opportunity for young people to create and strengthen a youth leadership and mentorship network through linkages at both national and county levels. Further, beginning with political parties, FES intends that the training will facilitate a paradigm shift in Kenyan leadership culture to one that is issues and development based and driven by values.
The Political Forum: The Forum is a platform for young Kenyans to engage in political discussions and to share and/or challenge ideas on substantive policy areas in an informal setting. The Forum meets once every six weeks and targets politically active young Kenyans, including alumni from the Pioneers for Change network. It is part of the Foundation’s cooperation with the P4C, and supports P4C in developing and presenting political positions, furthering their debating skills and increasing their political outreach. Expert inputs are provided for topical issues selected by P4C and FES. Some proposals generated at the Forum have influenced policy-making at the national, regional and county levels.
Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association (KYPA): The Kenya Young Parliamentary Association (KYPA) was formed in 2004 as a membership organization for members of Parliament below 45 years of age. The first Strategic Plan was developed in March 2005 to cover the period 2005 – 2007 supported by the International Republican Institute, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the Youth Agenda. The overall goal of the association was to build the capacity and enhance the effective participation of young leaders at all levels in the country, both within Parliament and outside. In the 10th Parliament, the association was moribund with the deep divisions that resulted after the disputed 2007 Elections playing a major factor. The 11th Parliament has seen the election of the largest number of young people in to positions of leadership both in Parliament and County Assemblies in Kenya’s history. KYPA therefore has a unique opportunity to drive the agenda for the empowerment of young people like never before. Consequently, young Parliamentarians came together and started consultations on reviving the association. This culminated in the election of new office bearers at the end of 2013.
KYPA is committed to seeing the youth empowered and able to participate in shaping laws and policies that affect their future. It realizes that a majority of young people of Kenya remain unemployed. Youth unemployment becomes one of the key issues that KYPA aims to address itself to. In addition to this, KYPA will address health, education and entrepreneurship. To this end KYPA intends to work strategically from an informed position in order to drive policy, spearhead legislation, engage with all stakeholders and review the implementation of policies and laws that affect young people.
Global Outlook School of Trade Unions: The Global Outlook School of Trade Unions is being conducted by FES in cooperation with the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU). It aims at fostering a young generation of skilled trade unionists. For more information, please click Global Outlook School of Trade Unions.pdf
· Nairobi Slum Residents’ Assembly: In January 2008 Citizens against Violence (CAVi) and FES launched an activity in the Nairobi slums to support sixty young leaders in their lobby and advocacy work for better social and security conditions in the informal settlements. For more information, please click Nairobi Slum Residents Assembly.pdf