Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Will 20 May Tripartite Elections Address Youth Challenges?

Malawi will on 20th May 2014, 20 days from today vote in the first ever Tripartite Elections that will see the coming to power of a president, members of parliament and local councillors. The election is an opportunity where candidates that have clear strategies on youth development and women empowerment can be elected.
 The electorate are strongly urged to assess the aspiring candidates on issues they are promising to address once elected into power.  The fate of the majority of candidates lies in the hands of the youth who comprise a majority of registered voters. If the youth are going to use their vote wisely, Malawi will elect leaders that will address challenges young people face in their daily lives.

 The youth in this country are facing a number of challenges that include; limited employment opportunities, limited participation in governance, HIV/ AIDS and lack of access to Sexual Reproductive Health services, limited access to institutions of higher learning, limited access to vocational centres and politicized youth credit and loan schemes. The last three regimes since 1994 have not addressed these issues comprehensively thereby leaving out a lot to be desired.

The 2014 Tripartite Elections create another rare opportunity for young people to actively participate and elect governors that have proved to be ready to take up the mantle and address the challenges that young people are facing. Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) has been conducting voter and civic education to empower the electorate to vote for candidates that are committed to address the critical issues affecting the youth. The organisation has conducted a number of civic and voter education campaigns through a project that is ensuring that the forth coming 2014 Tripartite Elections are based on issues as opposed to handing out of materials and money. The project is being supported by National Democratic Institute with funding from DFID.

For the youth to benefit from the forth coming May 20 Tripartite Elections, they themselves are supposed to vote wisely. They are supposed to elect leaders that have clear strategies that will address their challenges. The onus to benefit from the elections entirely rests in the hands of all the eligible young voters.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Youth and the Polygonal Sexual Reproductive Health Puzzle

The youth form a larger part of the total population of the world. It is very heartrending to note that this large sect of the world’s population is facing a lot of challenges and among them are issues pertaining to drug and substance abuse that lead to mental illness, death and many other problems. Of paramount importance and worth the world’s attention and collective action is the issue of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) of young people.

The problem mainly comes in due to the fact that the youth across the globe do not have access to SRH services. Adolescence has its own accompanying elements and among them is the need to seek knowledge about one’s sexuality. As such, the youth lack knowledge and they rely on information from their peers. Usually, this information is based on myths and half-truths and they act based on the misconceptions and they eventually face the dire consequences.

Firstly, the youth, more especially girls are greatly affected by Sexual Reproductive Health problems like maternal death and fistula. These two ‘beasts’ have claimed thousands of young lives across the world. The root of the problem emanates from the fact that young girls start engaging in sexual activities with either boys of their age group or older men. Due to lack of knowledge on the issues of sex and sexuality, they end up being impregnated. Because of their immaturity, many die during delivery and some end up with obstetric fistula.

Secondly, SRH problems have led to an increase in school drop out rate more especially in low income countries. The lack of knowledge on issues of sex and sexuality combined with the lack of SRH services like contraceptives has led to an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies. In Malawi and most traditional societies, when a boy impregnates a girl, culture and society dictates that they should marry. Thus, bringing food on the table becomes the order of the day to such couples and the responsibility leaves them with no room to go back to school. 

Thirdly, HIV and AIDS has and is still claiming lives of young people throughout the world. HIV prevalence rate is dangerously high among the youth in spite of several attempts by governments, funding agencies and NGOs to put the situation under control. The problem has, in the long run, affected youth representation in various critical and key positions in the society. As such, implementation and formulation of some human development initiatives do not consider the youth.

The issues of SRH are very crosscutting hence the need for a systematic approach to deal with the problem. Culture and societal norms need to be tackled as well as the two are also among the main perpetrators of among the SRH problems among the youth. It is like a puzzle that has to be solved in order to save the next generation.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ever gone for STI’s/HIV Test?

The youth have been told countless times about the advantages of going for HIV or STI’s tests. However,I have noticed that the messages just go on deaf ears. It’s like the youth don’t care about their lives anymore. 

I was shocked when I read IPAS statistical data that globally, 4.6 million Young people are living with HIV and 2,300 are infected each day. Most young people are fond of saying ‘I am safe; STIs and HIV are for the older generation so why should I bother myself to undergo such an exercise?’

Have you ever sat down to consider the advantages and disadvantages of either going for STI or HIV test or not? For a start, having knowledge is always better than living in utter ignorance of your own body and getting tested puts you in a very good position to know yourself? Furthermore, the knowledge will eventually help to protect lives of many people including you.That applies to both possibilities, whether you are HIV positive or negative.Most STIs are curable, but when they are left unattended to for a longer period of time,they bring about undesirable and everlasting consequencies like sterility.

Combating the spread of HIV and STIs is the duty of every responsible young person and it’s high time the youth got serious about their Sexual Reproductive Health. There is need to participate positively to the development of our country. My plea to the youth is that you should not shun HIV and STI testing.Whenever you are in doubt; please do not hesitate to seek guidance from Youth centers, Clinics, Youth Friendly HealthService Providers and many other institutions that deal with sexual and reproductive health issues.

Make a right decision for you and your partners!!!

Monday, 14 April 2014

We Should Vote Wisely

As we are getting closer to the Tripartite Elections on 20thMay, 2014, politicians are busy distributing handouts in order to entice people to vote for them.
They give us money, yes!But remember to vote for candidates who have the potential to develop our communities and the country as a whole. It is a tradition of politicians to use the youth as their campaign tools and once they ascend to power,they totally forget what they promised them.We need a breed of Politicians who will initiate and implement strategies that will empower the youth in all spheres of life.

My plea to the youth is that they should not be attracted to handouts.The only change the handouts can effect in young people is nothing but a dependency syndrome.Do not perceive handouts from unscrupulous aspirants as an indicator of good and wise leadership, manifesto's are enough to instruct your choice of a good candidate or political party.

I urge all the youth to consistently attend campaign meetings and follow the events as they unfold to avoid voting for wrong people. Furthermore, there is also need to listen to political debates on the radio so as to know who is who and what he or she can do to develop this country.

Let us take an active part, our vote is very vital

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Plight of children and young people

Through my interaction with children and young people, I have realized that not much is being done by the custodians of our destiny. This is evidenced by the high rates of child abuse cases as manifested in a number of child rights violations like forced child marriages. Parents marry off their daughters for material gains.

Regardless of age, first signs of puberty mark maturity for marriage and in Malawi almost 50% of girls get married before their 18th birthday. This trend, to a greater extent, has accelerated vulnerability of many adolescents. Furthermore, the impact of early child bearing and the accompanying obstetric complications like fistula has greatly affected the health and lives of many girls.

Lately, Malawi has become a favourite spot for child traffickers from within and outside. Children are trafficked for a number of reasons like child labour activities in the agricultural sector. Children are also trafficked for sexual exploitation as they are being recruited in prostitution which seems to be a lucrative business for some unscrupulous individuals.

Furthermore, young people are often challenged by the lack of access to information and services that are vital to their growth and development. For instance, a good number of adolescents are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services.

Consequently, this translates into a bleak future for the next generation due to high levels of social and economic vulnerability. There is need to listen to the voices of children and young people.