By Awa Macalo
West Africa Network for Peace building, WANEP-Gambia has held a meeting with youth leaders from regions across the country to dialogue on the importance of their participation in politics.
The purpose of the event is to discuss the crucial roles of youth in national development and peacebuilding as well as promoting the participation of youth in decision-making processes ahead of the local government elections.
Salama Njie, national network coordinator for WANEP-Gambia, during her brief remarks, explained that, as the country is set to head to the poll for the local government elections scheduled for April 2023, the increased vulnerability of young people to political exploitation and electoral violence coupled with ethnic divisions and political party dispute remain a concern.
“Despite the youths consisting 64 percent of the country’s population, meaningful participation in governance of young men and women in the political arena is weak.
Many political actors take advantage of your political vulnerability to manipulate and use you to win the favor of the electorates or persuade them to act a violence against political opponents,” she said.
The daylong discussion is predicted to enhance participants with required knowledge and skills to be able to fruitfully contribute in the country’s electoral decision makings and raise political awareness in their respective regions.
“By the end of the dialogue, we intend to develop a comprehensive roadmap for youth political participation and leadership in decision making processes at all level. At WANEP, for political parties to be representative, we believe that all parts of the society must be included. When young people are disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no choice or influence in decisions that affects them. To make a difference in the longer term, it is essential that young people are involve in formal political processes,” she concluded.