Silent Voices, Unrealised Rights - Championing Youth Participation in Zimbabwe

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Promoting youth participation in governance in transitional political contexts has its own unique challenges. Complex and shifting power dynamics make it difficult for young people to penetrate and influence decision-making structures. This article describes how one rural-based Zimbabwean youth organisation, Bulawayo Integrated Youth Survival Programme (BUIYSAP), is working with ActionAid International Zimbabwe (AAIZ) to effectively navigate such a context, empowering young rights holders in the process. It describes: • the participatory methodologies used to build young people’s ability to mobilise and constructively engage with duty bearers; • how formerly hostile duty bearers were brought on board to fulfil their responsibilities to young people in their communities; and • the lessons learnt from creating new participatory decision-making platforms for young people in the project area. The article emphasises the importance of conducting in-depth power analysis and applying a human rights-based approach while implementing a participatory governance programme involving young people in Zimbabwe. It also stresses the need to conduct robust gender analysis to ensure both young men and women are supported to enhance their levels of participation.


Leila Billing, Talita Ndebele

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