Hargeisa, 6 April 2010 (Somalilandpress) – At the beginning of 21st century, the initiative of youth organization came on board in the Republic of Somaliland. The move has enhanced the competency and talents of the youth in the country. It has built a bridge for youth to ascend to the skyscrapers of international job market like the UN organizations as well as other private offices.
Consequently, a youth organization has become the only available option where they can develop and practice their leadership roles, which ultimately will lead to the participation of decision making at national levels.
However, the youth of today has no role in decision making, since they do not have any acting member in the current parliament, whose term is at the edge. Youth continue to remain inactive in minds of adults. They still believe youth cannot contribute anything in the decision making of the country. The saying that “Youth are the leaders of tomorrow” has consistently been used by adults as an excuse to perpetuate age gaps or simply to set climate for ignoring their role in national development.
This is not an issue confined only to Somaliland; in fact, the definition of “youth” is universally referred to as the age between 16 to 34. If this is taken literally, then it is unfortunate the population that is excluded from the decision making bodies in almost every country. While youths in other countries of the world have made combined efforts to the involvement of decision making, our youth have remained behind.
In addition, a decade ago youth involvement in leadership and decision making in Somaliland was beyond discussion. Their careers would not be visible since the country had recovered from severe wreckage; people aged 60 and over were called on duties and are still in offices, because of the absence of pension policy for retirement. Not only their future alternative, but there is no plan in place to enrich the current youth to actively participate and benefit from the inherited future.
Similarly, youth are also affected by myriad social, and economic issues, as well as health related problems, which has devastated their efforts, cohesion and ambitions.
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The youth have often quoted the constitution of the country as the primary obstacle to their participation in decision making. The constitution of Somaliland, allows only persons over 34 years of age to take part in parliamentary election, but lack of clarity of their roles, the absence of their interest, and their disarray can also be taken as the preliminary factors of youth challenges.
The ultimate solution is not only in the identification of the challenges, but also an all inclusive attempt. Equally, youth in Somaliland have not expressed their interest to participate in the decision making with the zeal deserved.
“We have made a number of attempts to advocate for youth on how to participate in the decision making in the country; we even had a meeting with the two houses (the representative and elders), and forwarded the youth issue and discussed our concern, but we have not yet gotten any response”, said Mohamed Mohamoud (Barwani), the Executive Director of SONYO (Somaliland Nationwide Youth Organization).
It is generally believed that youth can contribute nothing to the parliament, if they were given opportunity to play a role in decision making. Abdirahman Abib (Rabile), one of Somaliland youth has a different view on this; “youth are more dynamic than others; they have a new blood free from tribalism and nepotism; compatible with new technology and based on nationalism” he said.
“Having youth as Members of Parliament can allow them to bring on the board all issues effecting youth, come up a fresh initiative based on development, and take part in the race as they are energetic” he added.
Remarkably, youth organizations are institutions where youth build their leadership capacities, support the youth, and make their own career to the involvement in decision making. SONYO Umbrella is considered the only center for youth building that has played pivotal role in youth capacity in leadership building.
Thus, the continuation of youth organizations will increase their involvement in the decision making of the country. Finally, with all due respect, it is important for senior citizens to acknowledge that the tomorrow referred to in the saying is actually today – the future is now.