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Creating safe space for youth participation


The Zimbabwe Youth Council is an institution created by the Government based on an Act of Parliament, the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act (25:19), to ensure an enabling environment for the development and empowerment of youth. The Council has vast experience, expertise and capacity to understand the needs of young people and how it engages Government for youth is augmented by the strategic partnerships that the Council has established over the years.


One such partnership is with UNFPA Zimbabwe under the Safeguard Young People (SYP) programme. Together, UNFPA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Youth Council support the implementation of the National Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health Strategy focusing on strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Zimbabwe Youth Council, youth led organisations and Parliamentarians and their engagement in social and legislative processes. Activities supported seek to promote youth participation and leadership, enhancing creation of an enabling environment for young people to access SRH information and services, advocacy, mobilization and accountability mechanisms. This is made possible through the indispensable support from the government of Switzerland. 


Through financial support from UNFPA the Council has developed a number of programmes to build the capacities of young people. The programmes ensure that young people themselves identify the challenges they face in pursuit of their own development, and provide the means to articulate them to policy makers, by providing access to the platforms where their views and ideas are given attention.


One such programme is the Youth Policy Tracking Group which was developed over the years to provide young people with an opportunity to interact with the Government. The Policy Tracking Group is a bringing together of youths from all corners of the country, building their capacity to understand what must constitute Positive Youth Development, how to articulate and prioritise their advocacy with Policy makers and be representatives of their peers. The Policy Tracking Group has participated in a number of policy dialogues and recently it led youth at public hearings on the Medical Services Amendment Bill and the Children’s Amendment Bill.


Figure 1 Seated from left to right: Brian Kudakwashe Malvern Sithole (ZYC Board Member), Hon Vincent Tsvangirai, Hon Brian Dube, Hon Tatenda Mavetera, Hon Ability Gandawa, Delight Muchazondida ZYPTG Chairperson.


In 2020 the Group of youths with support from UNFPA held a workshop with Parliament in Marondera where a resolution was passed to lobby Parliament for the establishment of a Parliamentary Youth Caucus. A caucus is a system of organizing like-minded Members of Parliament for a cause, and this caucus will commit to youth-supportive legislation. The resolution was shared by the Zimbabwe Youth Council with Parliament. Parliament of Zimbabwe has since assigned Honourable Tatenda A. Mavetera to lead the establishment of the Youth Caucus. Of the 270 member National Assembly of Zimbabwe, only 2 parliamentarians are youth. The ability of these Members of Parliament to influence youth related policy is limited by their numbers and in some instances the capacity to appreciate the needs of young people.


The primary objective of institutionalizing Members of Parliament is to assist them to become effective, appreciate and have a sustained interest in a particular subject matter. It is expected that the Caucus will be such an initiative.


To date the Caucus and the Youth Policy Tracking Group have established a working relationship that is creating a safe environment for young people to freely share their experiences, ideas and aspirations with Members of Parliament. Some members of Parliament who are in the interim steering committee have already started showing their appreciation of youth issues. Two MPs have initiated youth empowerment initiatives in their constituencies, while all of them have committed to champion the youth cause in Parliament by ensuring that any Bill that passes through Parliament must be youth friendly in one way or the other.