By Our Reporter
The Annual National Youth Parliament is an important political and legislative space and creative advocacy vehicle that brings together the National Youth Council (NYC), the Uganda National Students Association – (UNSA), Young entrepreneurs, young people in the formal and informal sector, Activista Network, and young people from civil society organizations, the private sector, and cultural institutions among others.
Uganda has been a key stakeholder in ensuring that the young people’s issues are included in the National legislative agenda; although, in the 10th and 11th parliaments, it has been quite challenging to ensure community participation in passing various bills into law especially those related with young people. The National Youth Parliament, therefore, is key as it strongly contributes to the participation of such excluded community members.
The 4th National Youth Parliament Sitting was organized the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) coordinated by Faraja Africa Foundation together with partners, the European Union, Action Aid International-Uganda, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Rose Namayanja Foundation, Center for Policy Analysis, Advance Afrika and Parliament of Uganda, at Parliament of Uganda on 18th September 2021 under the theme “Youth at Crossroads: Quest for descent livelihood amidst the threat of Climate change and the COVID 19 Pandemic”. It was a safe place for youth inclusion in decision making and brought together over 900 voices of young leaders, professionals, and people to the Parliament of Uganda right from the regional level to the national level: leaving no voice unheard.
The 2021 National Youth Parliament was all-inclusive, as it started from the regional level covering Western, Northern, West Nile, Rwenzori, and Eastern Region, all the way to the national level. For each region, 20 young people attended physically and over 50 online.
The climax was the National Youth Parliament sitting which convened 100 young people from across the country physically at a full-day event while over 200 attended the session digitally via zoom conferencing. The proceedings were also broadcasted live on NBS TV, Faraja Television and PYIP Partners’ Social Media platforms.
The event commenced with young people holding a scientific election to elect the speaker of the 4th National Youth Parliament. The selection process saw three candidates; Hon. Ambasize Ezra and Hon. Howard Mwesigwa from the Western region and Hon. Olupot Calvin from the Eastern region, with Hon. Ambasize Ezra emerging successful
The opening ceremony was graced by the Speaker of the National Parliament Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the European Union Head of Governance Sector, Amb. Gonze Nicolas, country director Action Aid Uganda; Xavier Ejoyi, Ms. Sylvia Pimer Youth Officer Ministry of Gender Labor and social development, Hon. Okot Bonifance Northern Uganda Youth Member of Parliament and the Chairperson National Youth Council Hon. Jacob Eyeru.
It is very important that as the emerging leaders of this country, we start having conversions that are consistent with global interests and sustainable development not just for our own selves, but for generations we shall not see.” Jacob Eyeru, Chairperson Youth Council
The young honorable members debated on issues that are pertinent to young people in Uganda summarized in the order paper. Issues identified in the regional Youth Parliaments and consultative engagements/dialogues fed into the motions moved at the National Youth Parliament in Uganda and consequently, the East African Youth Parliament Sitting in November 2021.
These motions included; Motion for a resolution of the National Youth Parliament urging the government to address the spiraling teenage pregnancies and their implications on the girl child education and their social entrepreneurship, Motion for a resolution of the National Youth Parliament urging the government to urgently address the reproductive health challenges faced by young people amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Motion for a resolution of the National Youth Parliament urging the government to put in place post Covid recovery measures for the economic transformation of young people including decent jobs, Motion for a resolution of the National Youth Parliament urging government to urgently address issues affecting the youth in business and support them to recover from the crisis presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Notable in attendance was the outgoing 2020 Youth Parliament Speaker, Hon. Abenawe Allan.
The chief guest and host, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah the speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, opened and commissioned the National Youth Parliament as a special sitting of the Ugandan Parliament who encouraged the young people in attendance that the youth parliament is not for show, whatever will be discussed throughout the National Youth Parliament will not be vain but will rather find its way to the legislative arm of government either through committees or plenary and will be used to guide and advise the executive about the needs of the young people.
“While utilizing this platform, don’t just speak generically from statistics, I encourage you to speak from the heart. For example while talking about teenage pregnancies, I want you to speak for the young girl in the village who is pregnant and cannot go back to school”- Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah speaker of the National Parliament of the Republic of Uganda
The National Youth Parliament draws the attention of key decision-makers to issues apposite to young people’s livelihood, creates a safe space for young people and allows the aggregation of young voices to collectively push back against non-youth friendly reforms, across the country.
Faraja Africa Foundation will continue to engage the young people from grassroots and the stakeholders to ensure that there is follow up on the issues discussed.