''We need to be leaders of today, but not leaders of tomorrow”
Looking back in yesterday, I can still remember the feelings of excitement as parliament approved the amendment of Art.33.4 (Law No. 20). The years of being restricted from participating Local Council Elections were over. The struggle for youth participation movement was indeed remarkable and merit of admiration. It continues to be celebrated throughout Somaliland. Today, it is wonderful to see that the campaign successes and moves on faster than ever before. SONYO the torch of hope you lit in this year glows brightness, vastness and intensity.
Youth in Somaliland will have a big reason to smile. They will certainly have a reason to celebrate because thousands of young Somalilander’s who often suffer political barriers will have the chance to participate the upcoming Local Council Elections.
Dear Advocacy and Lobbying Committee (GFDSHDH), it makes me proud to congratulate your restless efforts toward that noble cause. It is a black day to shame for those who directly refused to contribute that noble cause. The active engagement of young people in decision – making processes at all stages and in all areas of life is not easy. It is a must that our long journey to participation is a half done.
The youth of today are really tough and talented people. Every young men and women has a dream to carry his/her country into a higher position in the world. Involvement of society’s decision making at a young age enhances the wellbeing of every nation. We have to express our views and opinions so as to be taken seriously that we are agent of change. Inspiring the young people to speak out by articulating their views and ideas feels he or she has something to offer in his society and also a sense of belongs.
A major benefit of young people’s input in decision making process makes better the confidence, knowledge and motivates others to be a part of them. It is therefore important for every nation to ensure the wellbeing of its youth and Somaliland is not exceptional.
Young people have the latent and aptitude to play a part in society and symbolize a voice that calls for the development of life in that society. Youth will not be enthusiastic, creative and innovative unless their societies understand they have the potential to improve their country socially, economically and politically. Thus, it depends on how their societies treat them We can say if we train our youth the leaders of the future, our society will prosper, but if they miss a direction the society will fail and live poverty.
Hence, it is essential that youth to obtain the guidance and support they need in this challenging stage of life. If supported and encouraged, youth can make a sizeable input to their country. Youth in Somaliland had long their rights were denied for their participation in the political higher ranking decision making process. Article 32 of Somaliland’s constitution states those 35yrs old or above have only the right to take part in governing process in the country.
Worst of all they had no opportunities to have express their voices and concerns with in the community and have no respect of voice judgment and freedom of expression. In Somaliland, the lack of interest shown to the youth caused illegal migration from their country to foreign country for better life has gone up and most doubled in this year and most likely reason for this is that our youth are time after time getting ignored by the mainstream society; it ever more looks like that our social order keeps forgetting the youth.
The role of Somaliland young people as active citizens has infact declined in relation to lack of formal political participation such as through elections. Decisions-makers often fail to recognize young people as an important component of society and valuable resource to the country. In spite of these, young people still face many challenges and problems which prevent them from showing their filled potential.
The issue of youth participation at the Local Council Elections is a key area of concern, particularly in view of reduced age of youth participation in local council elections. Reflecting that impossible predicament facing many youth in Somaliland, SONYO Youth Umbrella established Advocacy and Lobbying Committee. This committee was developed the working philosophy for the active youth political participation in Local Council Elections.
The main message is clear: while the Somaliland government is increasingly putting youth concerns at the heart of their political agenda, a lot more remains to be done. Government should commit to fully engage young people in all aspects of their programs and initiates that target youth and political development. It is, therefore crucial that youth receive the guidance and support they need in this challenging phase of life and sustaining them successful transition from youth to adult hood.
Let us remember the wisdom says, “Youth are like young plants, they need to be cared for, if you take good care of your plants, you will have strong plants and a good harvest. It is the same with youth, if you look after them”
By Farhan Abdi Suleiman (Oday)