Zimbabwe: Junior Councils – “Anything for us without us is against us!”


Date: February 26, 2019
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In November 2018, Gender Links Zimbabwe brought together eleven local authorities, junior councillors, and representatives of the national junior councils’ association to discuss SRHR issues and how to integrate the needs of the young people into local government planning. This ensured that young people, through junior councillors. participate in local government policy formulation and monitoring and evaluation particularly around issues that affect them the most in their communities e.g. Sexual Reproductive Health Rights.

Zimbabwe has a National Junior Councils Association that advocates for the participation of young people in Zimbabwe’s socio-economic activities as well as governance processes. The junior councils which is a form of local government councils is made up of school going children (lower six and upper six students). The junior council was formed as a non-political and non-profit making organisation whose aims were to provide young adults with experience in government and governance.

The intervention has benefitted both the local authorities and young people to ensure that the matters affecting the youth are planned and budgeted for. The youth can also campaign and raise awareness in their communities around these issues and other critical developmental matters.

The functions of the junior councillors among others is to defend the rights of the child, the right to participation, right to education, right to identity and to develop a social consciousness among the youths.

Local authorities reviewed the SRHR component of their Action Plans, integrating the views of the youth. Moving forward Gender Links Zimbabwe in partnership with the National Junior Councils Association will be involved in the planning for junior councillors. The planning will include a mapping the way forward on SRHR issues particularly on the need for advocacy around SRHR in local government through various means including drama, talk shows and social media campaigns.

Youth engagement is a very critical component for sustainability and local government planning as a whole. This will also ensure a monitoring mechanism through the junior councillors. It will also ensure accountability from the councils as junior councillors seek to bring them to account over policy and service delivery matters.

Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) issues affect individuals differently. The needs of the youth and adults differ thus the need to have this group talk about their issues as well as advocate for their needs through the junior councils.

At community level junior councillors are able to advocate for critical issues that affect them as well as raise awareness of these matters in their communities. Local authorities have begun, through interaction with junior councillors, integrating the issues into policy and planning.

 


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