Saldanha Bay Municipal Youth CouncilLearn. Educate. Grow
Young people are increasingly recognized as significant agents in the community and national development. Throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of young people are spearheading positive social change – leading community initiatives, operating small businesses, and re-shaping political processes.
OUR MUNICIPAL YOUTH COUNCIL
What is a Youth Council?
An entity composed of young people that serves as an advisory or advocacy body to government or donor agencies. advisory or advocacy body to government or donor agencies.
What Is the Impact of Youth Councils?
Youth councils have the power to have a lasting effect on both individuals and communities. These effects range from tangible results of council projects (e.g., new latrines, cleaner streets) to more profound behavioural or societal changes (e.g., increased self-esteem, development of youth policies).
At the individual level, youth often report improved confidence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose.2 For example, one youth council member said that “serving the youth” through a youth council gives her “great inner satisfaction.” Youth councils can also provide youth with opportunities to acquire new skills, such as public speaking or fundraising.3 One youth attributed his improved leadership skills and ability to plan and manage projects to his involvement in a youth council.
Many of the skills gained through participation in youth councils can be transferred to other contexts. Providing young people with the ability to express themselves in a diplomatic and eloquent manner, for example, can serve them well in their professional and social lives. Youth councils also offer extensive occasions for networking, which allows participating youth to expand their professional opportunities. Young people also gain a better understanding of local issues and governance structures by experiencing governance processes first-hand.
The positive impacts of youth councils go beyond the individual youth who are members of the council itself. The Youth Declaration, created by the Mozambique National Youth Council (MNYC), informs youth policy for the entire country. Youth councils can also foster intergenerational dialogue and improve the image of youth in the eyes of policymakers.5 The Mulago Parish Youth Council (MPYC) is an example of one youth council that has succeeded in this realm: one MPYC youth member reported better relationships with elders in the community, who now see youth as “responsible pillars of the community.” Many youth councils run projects to improve their communities; while these projects usually target youth, some benefit the entire population. The MPYC built a ventilated pit latrine that benefits all of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood that previously lacked sanitary facilities. Youth working together can enact positive social change in their communities, whether local or global.
Elements of Effective Youth Councils.
Effective youth councils encourage youth to become active citizens by providing them with opportunities to increase their skills, influence their communities, and learn about governance through direct participation. In addition to access to adequate resources (e.g., funding, space to conduct activities), the literature and case studies identify several other components necessary for youth councils to be effective.
Clearly defined purpose and role.
Young people need to understand both what they are doing and the intended outcomes of their actions. Providing them with context and clearly defined expectations allows for a deeper connection to the work.
The MNYC has established a successful framework that clearly defines the council’s purpose. In 2002, youth associations met as a collective to discuss and identify issues facing the approximately nine million youth (40 percent of the population) in Mozambique. Following the discussions, they developed the Youth Declaration, which serves as a framework that addresses the relevant needs and aspirations of Mozambican youth. This framework has served to guide the work of the MNYC and its member councils. In addition to having a clear organizational purpose, the GYP also has a clearly defined role. It serves to advocate for, build the capacity of, and support youth, yet it does not assume the role of “boss” or evaluator of youth programs. Actual implementation is left to other organizations, such as municipal government and development agencies.
Active youth participation.
Youth should be involved in the work of the council in a meaningful way. Youth can easily spot when their participation is tokenistic and will consequently resent the pretense. In order to retain and truly include the voices of young people, youth must be treated as experts in their own right. Implemented by the African Regional Youth Initiative (ARYI), the African Participatory Monitoring Initiative successfully illustrates this concept. The goal of the Initiative was to develop and support, through a series of civil society consultations led by young people, a nationally driven youth response that actively includes the participation of all civil society members, particularly young people, in open dialogues and integrates their voices into the development of viable macroeconomic policies. The ARYI has also implemented a number of other methods of placing youth participation at the center of their activities (see box below).
Young people must see that their participation is having an impact. While youth are eager to voice their opinions, they are wary of adults who are more interested in the boost youth consultation can bring to their public image than in the actual value of youth input.16 Mozambique reflects the importance of genuine youth participation. Some MNYC members feel that the country’s political leadership often imposes its own agenda upon the MNYC members. In 2006, out of frustration with the limited impact of the MNYC, youth leaders launched a parallel, democratically elected youth council, unaffiliated with the government. This parallel council is explicitly intended to remain uncorrupted by politics and to serve as a safe forum where youth can both speak openly and hold government leaders accountable.
A world in which every young person is empowered to create social and political change.
As SBM’s youth council, this Youth Council brings young people together to find their voice and use to improve the lives of young people. We work with others to amplify young people’s voices to create an environment in which young people’s views are valued, sought and acted upon.
The Saldanha Bay Youth Council is an initiative that we have pride in it is closely in line to one of our most important strategic objectives contained in 2017 – 2022 Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
The SBMYC is an organ of society with the aim to identify the roles, needs, community responsibilities, assist, encourage and guide the youth of this area. The SBMYC will provide structure and synergy with regards to all youth projects in the Saldanha Bay Municipal (SBM) area under the guidance and leadership of the SBM Council
The SBMYC is established to coordinate, promote and advocate for youth, in particular youth appropriate strategies and practices within the municipal area and feed the results into regional, national and continental processes.