Youth Engagement

Civil Participation
Children and Youth

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Youth in Civic Spaces: Strengthening young peoples’ participation in Kenya’s governance processes

Youth in Civic Spaces: Strengthening young peoples’ participation in Kenya’s governance processes


The Problem
In the 1990s, young people and students in higher learning institutions were at the forefront of shaping public policies, fighting for multiparty politics, and developing a new constitution in Kenya. Over the years, the participation, inclusion, and representation of young people have greatly declined. Students often perceive a disconnect between political issues and their own lives, leading to apathy toward public life. Moreover, various challenges impede young peoples’ engagement in civic activities, such as limited access to networks, mentorship, and funding. Inadequate representation in politics and decision-making spaces restricts their influence in shaping policies that affect their interests. Pervasive political polarization also creates an environment that discourages youth from engaging in civic processes, as differences often lead to conflicts and divisions. Additionally, a lack of trust and confidence in political processes, coupled with insufficient civic and voter education, further diminishes youth involvement.  

The Approach
Youth in Civic Space is a youth-led project that aims to build and strengthen the capacity of young people to meaningfully participate in governance processes. The goal is to cultivate an informed and actively engaged youth population capable of contributing to Kenya’s development and governance by playing an integral role in shaping policies, ensuring transparency, and upholding democratic values. The project is implemented in higher learning institutions, where it shares information with young people about public policies, proposed bills, and development budgets in the local language. Facilitators then collect student feedback and use the organizations’ extensive networks to amplify their views to government institutions. 

Major activities include: 

  • Tailored training and capacity building sessions on budget making processes, budget analysis, budget tracking and corruption reporting 

  • Submission of public memoranda and petitions to government agencies to share youth views on proposed government policies, legislation, and tax plans 

  • Commemoration of international days such as Human Rights Day and International Anti-Corruption Day 

  • Public debates bringing together right-holders and duty-bearers to discuss avenues for impactful engagement 

  • Formation of transparency and Integrity clubs in higher learning institutions  

The Impact

  • Three out of seven memoranda and petitions submitted in 2023 were successful, which contributed to 13 policy changes 

  • Two memoranda submitted in 2024 on the Budget Policy Statement and County Licensing (Uniform Procedures) have been successful. In the County Licensing (Uniform Procedures) Bill, one of the successful proposals was offering incentives for young people in registering businesses to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.   

  • A memorandum submitted on the Kenyan Finance Bill 2023 was a success, as three out of the seven areas raised issues was considered. One area was the draft policy to withhold a 15% tax on content creators. The project proposed a reduction to 5%, considering that most content creators in Kenya are young people. 

  • The project was selected as one of the organizations to engage as a stakeholder in drafting Kenya’s Public Participation Bill. Sections they have proposed include imposing a penalty for duty bearers who ignore obligations to get views from the public before creating public policy, and considerations for people with disabilities in accessing political information. 

  • Proposed a formula to the Affirmative Action Departmental Group on ensuring representation of women in the Kenyan National Assembly and Senate. 

The Future
The project plans to establish new community groups, especially Transparency and Integrity Clubs and formalize partnerships with local media to promote and expand their work. They are currently reviewing Kenya's Medium Term Revenue Strategy and the Fourth Term Plan of Vision 2030, which in the next few years will be key policy documents for youth engagement and advocacy.