SONYO Umbrella in collaboration with SONSOF as part of a project funded by the European Union has organized a dialogue session for vulnerable youth and minority groups focusing on the challenges that are often stuck in the face of youth and minority participation in the decision-making process.
Participants from SONYO member organizations, minority-focused organizations, and youth-focused organizations were in attendance.
The dialogue was to serve as a platform where affected youth and minority groups can discuss the pertinent setbacks before youth and minority inclusion in governance and how these setbacks could be better addressed through the collective efforts of CSOs and other interested parties at the grassroots level. Moreover, the key priorities and actions for CSOs’ interventional scope were discussed and mapped out. As a result of that, the participants exercised thorough discussion to come up with amicable solutions to the challenges identified.
Enabling a prospering democracy demands the active involvement of all groups, hence, the need for harmonized efforts toward achieving was highlighted in the session.
Overall, the session has been instrumental in identifying the loopholes in the governance system that demotes the political aspirations of youth and minority groups, the opportunities that could be taken advantage of, and the areas in which efforts needed to be directed. It was a successful dialogue that captured almost all of its intended objectives.
The dialogue session started with a presentation on ‘overcoming challenges for youth and minorities to effectively participate in the decision-making process and the national development agenda’.
The dialogue session has identified a considerable number of recommendations for achieving an inclusive system, one in which that ensures the political relatability of all concerned citizens in Somaliland. Among those recommendations are the following;
>To address the limited political representation of youth and minorities, efforts can be made to increase their representation in political institutions, such as through targeted affirmative action policies. Additionally, promoting civic education and leadership training for youth and minorities can help build their capacity to participate in decision-making processes.
>Improving access to information is crucial for increasing the participation of youth and minorities in decision-making processes. This can be done through efforts such as improving communication networks, increasing access to the internet and social media, and promoting transparency in government decision-making processes.
>Efforts to address traditional gender roles can include promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through education and awareness-raising campaigns. It is also important to encourage women’s participation in decision-making processes and provide support for their engagement, such as through mentorship and networking opportunities.
>Addressing political instability and excessive term extensions requires creating an enabling environment for encouraging youth and minorities to participate in decision-making processes. This can be done through efforts such as promoting dialogue and timely elections, increasing transparency and accountability in government institutions, and providing support for civic engagement.
>Efforts to address limited resources can include providing targeted support for youth and minorities, such as through scholarships and grants for education and training. Additionally, efforts can be made to increase access to resources such as transportation and technology, which can facilitate participation in decision-making processes.
>To address the lack of youth engagement in decision-making processes, efforts can be made to create opportunities for meaningful participation, such as through youth councils, mentorship programs, and leadership training. Additionally, promoting youth-led initiatives and involving young people in the design and implementation of policies can increase their engagement.
>Improving infrastructure, such as roads and communication networks, can increase access to resources and opportunities for youth and minorities. Additionally, efforts can be made to increase access to social amenities such as healthcare and education.
>Efforts to address discrimination and marginalization can include promoting diversity and inclusivity in all aspects of society. Additionally, providing targeted support for marginalized groups, such as through affirmative action policies and social support programs, can help reduce discrimination and marginalization.
>Building trust in institutions requires promoting transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in decision-making processes. Additionally, providing channels for citizen feedback and engagement can increase trust in government institutions.
The role of csos
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can play a critical role in ensuring that the recommendations for addressing the challenges faced by youth and minorities in Somaliland are taken into action. Here are some of the ways that CSOs can contribute:
1:Advocacy: CSOs can advocate for policy changes that support the above recommendations, such as promoting youth and minority representation in decision-making processes and addressing cultural and religious perceptions that limit participation. Advocacy can be done through various means, such as lobbying, public campaigns, and grassroots mobilization.
2: Capacity building: CSOs can help build the capacity of youth and minority groups to participate in decision-making processes by providing training and mentorship programs. These programs can include leadership training, civic education, and networking opportunities.
3: Awareness raising: CSOs can raise awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusivity in decision-making processes. They can do this through public campaigns, social media outreach, and community events.
4: Monitoring and evaluation: CSOs can monitor and evaluate government policies and programs to ensure that they are inclusive and equitable. This can help identify areas where improvements are needed and hold government officials accountable for their actions.
5: Partnerships: CSOs can form partnerships with other organizations, including government agencies, to promote the above recommendations. Collaborative efforts can help leverage resources and increase the impact of interventions.
6: Research and data collection: CSOs can conduct research and data collection to better understand the challenges faced by youth and minorities in Somaliland. This can help inform policy changes and interventions that are evidence-based and tailored to the needs of different groups.
Overall, cultural, religious, and economic class challenges limit the opportunities available to youth and minorities for participation in decision-making processes. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that includes education and awareness-raising campaigns, promoting diversity and inclusivity, and creating opportunities for meaningful participation in decision-making processes. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that government policies and programs are inclusive and equitable, providing equal opportunities for all citizens to participate in decision-making processes.
Lastly, the dialogue served both as educational as well as enlightening for the participants as it helped crack he real challenges that youth and minority groups face and how these challenges could be addressed in an effective and multi-faceted manner.