Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Silvester Kunkeyani
Young people are the future, goes the old saying. Now imagine a country whereby about 60% of the population comprises of youth aged people. Surely you would expect utmost priority to be given to an age group making up such a large percentage of the population, right? Well, when we talk of youth empowerment in Malawi, we are talking of the means through which the youth are assisted to succeed in life. The focus is for children and young people to be encouraged to take charge of their lives and make the country a better place for everyone. We do this by addressing the situation, taking action to improve access to resources, and transforming their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. In Malawi, most people think that it is only the function of the government to empower youth, but I believe differently. I believe you, as an individual, can also empower the young people around you.
The need to empower youth for a better tomorrow is connected both to the financial elevation, as well as an increment of the standard of living. Awareness is a key factor for this empowerment, with guidance towards developing a wholesome outlook of life. Youth empowerment, in any development, is imperative not only for national development of an entire country, but also for personal development of an individual. Youth empowerment is pursued by promoting youth rights, youth activism, and in community decision-making. Empowerment is a necessary process of inculcating values to equip the learner to live a life that is satisfying to the individual, while also being in accordance with the cherished values and ideals of the society. At present, it is the most effective means that society possesses for confronting the challenges of the future.
Currently, a lot is being spent on fighting crime, without understanding that crime affects the youth at an intrinsic level. It is easy for a young, impressionable mind to get entrapped in anti-social activities because he was not empowered morally, academically or financially. There are serious social and economic consequences associated with not addressing the youth who are at risk of negative circumstances – not only for the youth himself and his family, but also for the society at large. Empowerment enables a young mind to differentiate wrong from right, and denounces the path of injustice for a respectable life.
Utilizing young peoples’ potential as agents of change requires involving and empowering them in development policies, and supporting their participation at all levels. This goes with processes that enable participation enhance control through shared decision making; and create opportunities for the youths to learn, practice, and increase their skills. Engaging youth in pro-social, meaningful, and community-enhancing activities that they define and control, helps them gain vital skills, responsibilities, and the confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults.
Lastly, by empowering youth the future prosperity of nations is secured because these are the people who are the future of the country. There are youths who are running many managerial functions in many institutes and will soon be managing top offices in the future. This only confirms the popular statement “the youths are the leaders of tomorrow”. When the young are empowered, the society becomes a good place for all to live. They will assist in the economic activities of the society where they find themselves, and in turn, both families and the entire nation benefits.