12 August 2018

[BLOG] Together we can create #SafeSpaces4Youth

By Ventura Kireki | 20 years old | Nairobi, Kenya

It is World International Youth today, pretty great huh?

More often than not, you have heard people address the youth as the leaders of tomorrow and say that the time for the youth is now. While these are postive and optimistic feelings towards this group, it should be noted that things have not been so rosy.

Perhaps that is why for this year’s youth day we are raising our voices high to highlight the theme “Safe Spaces for the Youth.” The word “safe” is used to mean that there a haven from danger has been found. So when we say, safe spaces for the youth. What do we mean? Are the youth in danger? Are they not safe, and from who? Where and what are these threats to them?

“Millennial”

You have probably heard the word “millennial” used in reference to the youth often, and most of the time it is not in a way that would make one proud to go by that term. It is almost “not safe” to be recognized as one because being a millennial to most means being lazy, and/or not serious among others.

The standard has been set high up for millennials. I feel like there is a cloud of negativity surrounding being a millennial—almost as though millennials are expected to maintain a level of perfection. In addition, when this perfection is not attained, then boom, it seems like that is just another opportunity to criticize them.

More than anything, if we are to go by this term millennial, it is high time we—the youth—embrace it. It is high time we redefine what that means. That we, as the youth, are empowered, determined and capable of being leaders. That we are capable of sitting together with our leaders and give contributions on matters of substance that will be for the greater good.  We need to show that if we are given safe spaces, we will make the world a better place.

Safe spaces for the youths online. Too often we see the youth fall victim to cyberbullying. On several occasions, cases have been reported of young people who have fallen prey to online bullies and, in more extreme instances, lives have been lost as a result. It is unfortunate that here in Kenya most of the cases go unreported and unsolved due to lack of proper measures to track down perpetrators of such acts. Even though our legal framework does provide guidelines on how cyberbullying should be handled, I urge the government to take a more hands-on approach and look in-depth into this issue to create a safer online environment for youth to engage and exchange ideas.

Safe spaces in the governing process. Even though the youth are called the leaders of tomorrow, it still seems they are hardly given a voice to air their views on possible new strategies that could be implemented for better governance. While we can say we have some young leaders in various parliamentary positions following the 2017 general elections in Kenya, we still have to ask the question: what is the extent of their potential impact?

Unless they are taken seriously, then it could be almost null. The youth not only need to be given a chance for their voices to be heard, but to also be nurtured to contribute meaningfully to governance. Governmental and non-governmental institutions must go beyond rhetoric on issues about youth and safe spaces and instead foster opportunities for young people to learn and be mentored on how to participate in governance.

Safe spaces for the youth within the education system. Education is power. Without it, future generations of youth are at risk of not only being unlearned and unskilled, but also being rendered powerless—all of which combined is truly a dangerous prospect.

The safest spaces youth can be granted in the education sectors is access to quality education that prepares them to be innovative and acquire skills that meet the needs of their communities. I applaud the Kenyan government for the ongoing processes of revising the education curriculum to ensure students are equipped with skills that meet ever-changing global trends. However, I challenge the government and other concerned stakeholders to go further and train youth to be job creators and not just job seekers.

Creating the future we envision

In the end, it comes back to all of us—the youth. Everyone has a duty to do their part to provide safe spaces to the youth—including the youth themselves. Let us help each other access safe spaces where we can air our views and come together for a greater cause. A cause that is bigger than any of us.

The people believe in us as the youth to be the next leaders so let us start leading already. If we lead by example, others will follow. But we must also remember that being leaders means serving people and giving back to the community.

So wherever you are reading this, start in the community you are in. Come together and even start a project as the youth voice. A project that serves the community; the people.

Speak with your actions and your voice will be loud without even making utterances.

We are lucky that we have technology today that gives a chance for innovation. I urge the youth to not sleep on this! Show why you need safe spaces and you will help drive the changes needed!

Happy International Youth Day!


About the author

Ventura Kireki | 20 years old |Nairobi, Kenya

Ventura Kireki is a student at Riara University pursuing a Bachelor in Law. She is 20 years old and comes from Nairobi County, Kenya.

She  is an alumnae of the Akili Dada Emerging Leaders program 2017, a leadership program that prepares young women in institutions of higher learning to vie for leadership positions in their universities  and communities.

Ventura is a passionate writer and a blogger. Read her personal blog here:  https://venturakireki.com/

“I believe that our minds are very people and we should always be deliberate in choosing what we draw out of it to share with others.”—Ventura Kireki