African Young Women leading on Youth, Peace and Security

All over the world, there are a handful youth-led initiatives that are advancing the Youth, Peace and Security” (YPS) agenda with the view of including the most recent developments in the field of youth participation and youth policies. The initiatives re-echo the global (The Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security) and regional (The African Union Youth for Peace Programme) initiatives missioning to increase young people and youth organisations’ capacities and facilitates their participation in decision making processes towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Within the East and Horn of Africa region, only one initiative exists and is being championed by the Eastern Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Peace and security that is being co-chaired by Elly Kasirye, Yearning Voices Foundation and Christine Odera, the Horn of Africa Youth Network. The Forum targets the institutionalisation of frameworks on Youth, Peace and Security at IGAD, EAC and member state countries. The Forum programmes have been created with the ethos that young women and young men have a critical role in promoting and maintaining international peace and security. Contrary to most popular representations, the majority of youth are not violent. Rather, they can – and do – play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change.

I met Christine Odera in 2019. Our conversations are always lengthy because both of us share the same passions, youth, peace and security, music and so much more. I would like to be able to share with you a replica of our conversations in a more structured manner. I have had to formally ask for a meeting to interview Ms Odera, to which, after a long period of working with her with impromptu meetings, she had to laugh as she said yes to me. We have worked together to forge a memorandum of understanding that saw two youth-led organisations collaborating on a long strategic plan on Youth, Peace and Security. It is to this type of networking, that as young people, we end the popular narrative that young people work in silos. We have journeyed together and continue to network with many more youth-led or youth-focused organisations that are link-minded to Youth, Peace and Security. The East Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security platform exists and is also waiting for you to be a part of it.

Overall, our conversation reflected upon the following questions:

  1. Where did it all begin for you? How did you come to be interested in the field of Peace and Security?
  2. Why are networks important, and why did you decide to co-chair on the Eastern Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security?
  3. What have been some of the challenges that you have faced in implementing Youth, Peace and Security in IGAD/EAC?
  4. What is the planned journey ahead for you and the Eastern Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security in 2020 and beyond?
  5. What are the recommendations you have for any young person who is interested in Youth, Peace and Security?
  6. What is your appeal to existing youth organisations and how can they join East Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Sustainable Peace and why?

Well, from me to the Eastern Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security, Congratulations! I believe the task ahead is heavy and a first step has been made with the launch of the first report towards realizing the vision of effective YPS “From Foot Soldiers Towards Sustainable Youth Agency“.

Christien Odera’s Profile

Christine Odera is a Kenyan, fierce advocate for Peace and Security and Human Rights. She has gathered over 5 years’ experience in Youth Networks and alliance building, Programing, advocacy, policy, Intercultural and experimental learning, mediation and research. Her understanding of Youth, peace and security issues has propelled her into active engagement in designing and influencing policy, programming and documentation of various peace and security projects for organizations and governments. She is among the founders and Country Coordinator for CYPAN in Kenya, the Program Office Manager for School for International Training (SIT) Kenya and has held various leadership positions both nationally and Internationally. She is a co-founder of the Horn of Africa Youth Network (HoAYN) where She co-chairs the East Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations (Peace and Conflict Studies) from United States International University Africa (USIU-A) in Kenya.

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Reference:  

The Council of Europe: https://www.coe.int/en/web/north-south-centre/youth-peace-and-security.

The Eastern Africa Youth Empowerment Forum on Youth, Peace and Security: https://eayef.org

The 4th Regional Youth E-Consultation Report 2020:  From Foot Soldiers Towards Sustainable Youth Agency

UNFPA and PBSO. (2018). The Missing Peace. https://www.youth4peace.info/system/files/2018-10/youth-web-english.pdf

UN Sustainable Development Goals: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

UN archival platform on Youth, Peace and Security: https://www.youth4peace.info

Introductions

This platform aims to document and ignite conversations with different persons from diverse backgrounds in underscoring the reasons to why youth or women who are winning in different sectors to venture into political leadership and pave way for a new future for our countries, our continent and world. 

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