Youth Engagement: Namibia

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IRENE GAROËS

ACS celebrated International Youth Day 2020 by chatting with two of our Namibian Voices Inspiring Change about youth engagement and universal health coverage (UHC). Irene Garoës is a community organizer with the Women?s Leadership Center, where she organizes and facilitates trainings related to women?s reproductive health and rights.

Why is youth engagement important in Namibia?

Young people account for more than 40% of the national population. Politically and culturally young people’s voices, rights and needs have been suppressed for too long. Young people know what they want, and they cannot wait for tomorrow. We are the leaders of today, not tomorrow. Young people must be leading change in their communities, and in order to do this they need to be part of decision-making bodies in all aspects of their lives. Therefore, leadership of young people, especially women, must be built and encouraged for them to stand up for themselves and hold the government accountable for their rights.

Why should youth care about universal health coverage?

Being young, black, and poor in a country like Namibia often means that one is faced with economic injustices which directly have an impact on whether you can or not afford quality primary health care services.

How are you working to support youth engagement?

I work with the Young Feminist Movement Namibia to build Transformative Feminist Leadership of young women in rural parts of Namibia. We work in sectors of bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR). We also look at how we can address the economic injustice faced by young women to build their leadership and amplify their voices. Currently we are mapping out all women’s rights and feminist organizations in Namibia to see how we can strengthen the movement, mobilize resources and rise to advocate for our rights with relevant stakeholders such as law makers, public health service providers, and law enforcement.

"Young people must be leading change in their communities, and in order to do this they need to be part of decision-making bodies in all aspects of their lives."
-Irene Garoës

LUCIANO KAMBALA

Luciano Kambala is the Secretary General of the African Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) and works with the Namibia National Students Organization (NANSO) where he serves as the National Programs and Projects Coordinator.

Why is youth engagement important?

Meaningful youthful participation and engagement is very important because young people make up the largest demographic in any population. Most decisions made affect young people more than anyone else. Youth engagement allows for young people to be part of the transformation process as they were part of the consultative processes.

Why should youth care about universal health coverage?

Universal health coverage (UHC) should be a concern for everyone, especially in a time like now where we all see the adverse effects of having limited access to health facilities and a lack of affordability of these services. As the largest demographic, young people should be championing UHC as a generational mandate to ensure the problems of today are not tomorrow’s problems.

How are you working to support youth engagement?

Within the different organizations that I serve, we have made it a point to always inform stakeholders in government and different institutions that all decisions that affect young people should be made with their input. What AfriYAN has done, as a good example for this year, is the training we provided to parliamentarians on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Through this training, we were able to change a few perspectives and also ensured that the parliamentarians understood the youth’s direction in terms of SRHR and what needs to change.

"Young people should be championing UHC as a generational mandate to ensure the problems of today are not tomorrow's problems."
-Luciano Kambala