By Catherine Nyambura
The Post-2015 development agenda with its broad inputs opens access and inclusion. The Millennium Development Goals were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. By 2015, the time frame to reach the targets set will run out.
Since adoption of MDGs in 2000, young people have been working together to keep world leaders on track. However, one of the main critiques of the MDGs is that the goals were developed in a top-down approach, without the involvement of civil society groups including young people despite the fact that young people are disproportionately affected by issues such as unemployment, HIV/AIDS and other health issues, gender inequality, maternal health and governance.
An increasing number of young people have become pro-active and engaged in initiatives to demand for their rights. Specifically young people have sort to participate in development processes to create active space to accommodate fellow marginalized young people such as; youth living with HIV, unemployed youth, youth from low socio-economic backgrounds, indigenous young people, young people living in conflict areas, young people who are most at risk such as LGBTI youth and adolescents. If the formulation of the new development agenda will only be made in global advisory panels, then the voice of these young people doing amazing work at the community level will be left out and the inequality cycle will take on a new phase.
The list of proposed of SDGs http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/focussdgs.html does not have a stand-alone goal for the youth despite global calls from the youth consultation held so far. Mainstreaming of youth issues is what has gotten us into current high unemployment rates and the youthful HIV face global crisis in the first place. In Kenya the youth constitute 65% of the population; how do you mainstream the 65% of the population?
The main talking point for the post 2015 development agenda in regards to the youth is the reaping of the demographic dividend. We will also have to factor in the human rights and especially Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of the majority of the population. SRHR and HIV were left out in the MDGs and it will be upon this generation to ensure that the right to universal access of health for the youth is provided. Youth currently define the HIV epidemic with young girls and women dying from unsafe abortions, childbirth and FGM. Young men and women languish in poverty because of unemployment and lack of sustainable development.
In the post-2015 context, the right to inclusiveness at all levels from policy development to implementation should be consolidated. The post 2015 development agenda has to be formulated with sustainability, inclusion and most importantly meaningful engagement of the youth. People centered development can only be achieved with youth at the core.
Youth are not the future, they are the now and neither are they a phenomenon that the world has to deal with but a force to reckon with. Young people can no longer be sidelined in the development agenda since they are both beneficiaries and actors.