In Kenya, almost 75% of the population is under the age of 30 and the number of youth between 15-34 years old is anticipated to grow from 17 million to 24 million by 2050. This large and growing proportion of young people brings new health, economic, and equity challenges that need to be addressed, but also provides an opportunity to strengthen and organize young people’s voices to have an informed and effective role in addressing those challenges.
In 2017, through support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we created Youth in Action (Y-ACT) – an initiative that aims to mentor, support and train youth advocates to influence youth policy in the areas of gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) at national and grassroots levels. Through Y-ACT, we are providing resources and training to youth advocates in four Kenyan counties to help them advocate for policies that advance gender equality and increase access to sexual and reproductive health services. In its first year, participating youth selected three areas to be prioritized through Y-ACT:
We co-created – with local youth advocates and designers – youth-focused training materials – including an online portal where advocates can register themselves, have discussions with other advocates, and access resource materials. We help youth advocates continue to build their advocacy skills using both hands-on training sessions and remote trainings through mobile phones technology.