By Ebrima Jallow
Activista, a volunteer network of young people and students across rich and poor countries connected to ActionAid recently held a constituency dialogue on youth participation in the drafting of the new constitution in Banjul and Kanifing. They were supported in this initiative by the National Youth Parliament, Peace Ambassadors , the National Youth Council and the UNDP.The project, called a youth-friendly draft constitution, is aimed at getting the opinions and views of young people in the development of the new constitution.Speaking in one of the forums, Musa Jobarteh, coordinator of Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy & Good Governance (IPDG) said the consultations have been going on well adding that when it comes to politics youths are the most active citizens.
He however lamented: “But when it comes to policies and decision making a little is been said about them. So you will see a lot of issues lacking would have been captured in the policies adequately if opportunities are given to them,“ he said.“We have observed that since the setting up of the CRC, the youths have not been consulted on wider scale compared to other groups and as a result the issues that are affecting the youths are not coming up in the consultations widely. The youths think, feel and believe that it’s a necessity to go around and talk to their fellow youths and other marginalised groups such as the women groups and persons with disability to have their views for submission to the position paper and submit it to the CRC for inclusion in the new constitution .
”“I also discovered during the consultations that even our own laws were not publicly made known to Gambians particularly the youth folks. But am glad most of them now begin to understand their rights and realise themselves why their participation is needed. So many issues were raised that show that youths are concerned about their national development and if such are captured in the constitution, the environment and necessary policies will obviously ignite or provoke that potential in them to an extent they will be an agent of change for good,” he said.