1Point8 Billion Campaign : Kenya’s Adolescents Unveil Agenda for Change
In a recent report by Statista, Kenya’s adolescent population surged beyond 13 million as of 2023, marking a consistent upward trend over the last decade.
Recognizing the unique needs of these young individuals, not just within Kenya but globally, the Partnership for Mental, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH), in collaboration with the Organization of African Youth Kenya, conducted a survey under the 1point8b project.
This initiative aimed to give every young person a voice, allowing them to express their needs and propose strategies to enhance their well-being.
Listening to the Voices: Key Agenda Priority Areas
Following a successful voice collection exercise, Kenyan adolescents outlined their priority areas and put forth a compelling call to action. Here are the identified priority areas and the suggested action plans:
Universal Education and Vocational Training
Action Plan: Ensure access to universal primary, secondary, and tertiary education, coupled with vocational training.
The goal is to equip adolescents and youth with skills aligned with the modern labor market. This can be achieved by safeguarding and strengthening labor laws and policies, providing descent jobs, meaningful career options, and safe working environments.
Affordable and High-Quality Health Services
Action Plan: Establish “one-stop shops,” digital platforms, and peer-led models to bring health services closer to communities, including primary healthcare services, schools, and community-based services.
Special emphasis should be placed on providing affordable, high-quality health and well-being services, especially to adolescent parents.
Mental Well-being and Resilience
Action Plan: Ensure timely and flexible access to affordable and quality evidence-based information, support, therapy, and destigmatize mental health conditions among adolescents. By doing so, it aims to address mental health issues effectively.
Reform Harmful Laws
Action Plan: Institute affirmative and protective laws and policies safeguarding adolescents and youth from all forms of violence, discrimination, and harm.
This includes sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence. It also advocates for laws that facilitate access to education, healthcare, and other well-being services, while ensuring age of consent laws do not hinder access to essential sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and information.
Social Protection Policies and Mechanisms
Action Plan: Strengthen and establish social protection policies and mechanisms tailored to meet the unique needs of adolescents and youth.
This involves income-generating programs, safety nets for vulnerable adolescents, favorable tax policies, innovation and incubation hubs, and food security initiatives.
Preventing Stigma and Discrimination
Action Plan: Combat stigma and discrimination against adolescents and youth through legal protection and awareness-raising initiatives.
This includes comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) both in and out of school, fostering a culture of inclusivity and understanding.
Strengthening Youth Agency
Action Plan: Empower adolescents and youth by providing meaningful social and civic participation opportunities.
Allocate adequate resources to support youth and adolescent-centered accountability mechanisms, utilizing existing mechanisms at the national, regional, and global levels.
A Call for Action: Advocating for Youth Well-being
The voices collected by the Organization of African Youth reflect the authentic sentiments of young people in Kenya.
It is a call for action, urging the Kenyan government and relevant entities to collaborate in advocating for and implementing the outlined agenda for adolescents and youth.
By addressing these priority areas, Kenya has the opportunity to empower its youth, laying the foundation for a brighter and more inclusive future.
Article by Emmaculate Odhiambo