By Olimatou Coker
National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in partnership with the National Youth Council (NYC) funded by UNFPA through the Peace Building Fund (PBF) last week organized 6 days of training for regional and local decentralized structures ahead of the 2023 local government elections.
This training under the theme “Inclusion beyond Participation: Youth and Women in Grassroots Governance” is aimed at creating a platform among regional and local decentralized structures to exchange ideas as well as enlighten and build capacities on the inclusiveness and participation of women, young people and Persons With Disabilities in grassroots.
Speaking Ansumana Cessay, Senior Program Office of NCCE, said: “As we look up to the forthcoming Local Government Elections in 2023, it is crucial we continue to have more engagements of this nature in an effort to bridge the gap in women and youths’ involvement in critical decision-making levels, hence this intervention by NCCE and partners such as NYC, UNFPA, and the PBF to increase civic education, especially among the decentralized structures at the grassroots.”
He said the 6 days dialogue is aimed at creating a platform among regional and local decentralized structures to exchange ideas as well as enlighten and build capacities on the inclusiveness and participation of women, young people, and PWD in grassroots governance, could not come at a better time, considering the current realities and the build-up to the 2023 Local Government Elections.
He added that it is evident that progress will indeed be a challenge if more than half of the population who happen to be women and youths are left out in policy-making and development processes.
Ceesay pointed out that despite continued policy declarations and documentation, and domestic efforts to encourage inclusive representation and participation of women and youths in decision-making, there remain structural barriers that thwart youths and women from contributing and participating in the decision-making process at both national, regional, and local levels, hence their low participation, especially at the grassroots.
He further encouraged participants to keenly participate in the training and disseminate the knowledge and skills gained to those not fortunate to be part of it.
He expressed NCCE’s strong commitment to citizens’ participation in governance processes, saying they believe no meaningful development, sustainable peace, and matured democracy can be attained without the involvement of all regardless of status and affiliation.
Jongsaba Jawara, women representative, said women and youth involvement is critical to national development.
According to her, the country’s development was slow because of the lack of involvement of women and young people in decision-making processes.
Fabala Kinteh, Chief of Lower Baddibu District said with unity and respect among citizens, any endeavor will yield positive results for the country.
He called for the need to put the country’s interest first for its development.
Momodou Lamin I. L. Bojang, Chairman of the Kerewan Area Council, said decentralized structures are key to decentralization and should not be underestimated.
He pointed out that, the entry point for village development is VDCs, noting that empowering grassroots structures enables them fully participate, take ownership and implement projects.
Alasana Jawo, Regional Youth Coordinator challenged young people not to only follow leaders but learn how to lead in the best possible ways.