The power of cooperation on Youth Peace and Security
Kenya’s national Youth, Peace and Security process moved forward in early March 2023 when the Sports and Youth Cabinet kicked off efforts to draft a National Action Plan. The YMCA Kenya is actively involved in promoting the Youth, Peace and Security agenda. YMCA Finland supports the peace work of the YMCA Kenya as part of the Youth, Peace and Livelihood Development Cooperation Programme.
United Nations Security Council’s Resolution UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, recognises that ”young people play an important and positive role in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security” and urges member states to set up mechanisms that would enable youth to participate meaningfully in building peaceful societies.
A national action plan on 2250 is such a mechanism.
According to the 2020 census, 78 % of the Kenyan population of 47.6 million were under 35. This staggering amount of youth creates a unique opportunity to further sustainable development, but only if young people are included in decision-making and the advancement of peace.
YMCA Kenya – a powerful youth NGO for peace
YMCA Kenya is one of the largest youth organizations in Kenya, which empowers youth and works for peace at the grassroots level.
During the electioneering period, YMCA Peacemakers worked hard to ensure peaceful elections in Kenya. After the successful elections in 2022, YMCA Kenya took the UNSCR 2250, as a reference point for its peace work and has been actively lobbying the agenda at the national and local levels since then.
”As we see it, our advocacy work has been a remarkable stream that has contributed to the fact that now in Kenya, the Youth, Peace and Security work is turning into a flowing river,” sums up Beatrice Thuita, National Programmes Coordinator, YMCA Kenya.
The power of cooperation
Finland was the first country in the world to launch a National Action Plan for Youth, Peace and Security. An objective of the plan is to share experiences and strengthen youth cooperation globally.
We support the work of YMCA Kenya as part of the Youth, Peace and Livelihoods Development Cooperation Programme funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Thus, YMCAs’ cooperation also contributes to Finland’s National Action Plan.
In October 2022, as part of the cooperation the Finnish and Kenyan YMCA Peacemakers organized a peace camp to deepen and share their skills and knowledge. The camp culminated in a Youth, Peace and Security networking event in Nairobi organized by YMCA Kenya, YMCA Finland and the Embassy of Finland in Nairobi.
The YMCA Peacemakers youth planned, prepared, and carried out the impressive and engaging event, which was attended by representatives from youth and international organisations, the Kenyan administration, as well as regional representatives and members of parliament. Finnish parliamentarians Inka Hopsu and Saara-Sofia Sirén shared their greetings too.
“Inclusion, peace and security have been at the top of the priority list of Finland’s development and foreign policy for a long time, and Youth, Peace and Security agenda is an ideal tool to foster these goals“ refers Otto Kivinen, Deputy Head of the Finnish Embassy in Nairobi.
He continues to praise the cooperation: ”The cooperation with YMCAs and networking event organised just after the elections was a necessary catalyst to promote the Youth, Peace and Security agenda by bringing civil society representatives and decision makers together. There is power in trust and cooperation between civil society and public administration.”
Kenyan youth demand inclusive and sustainable process
The trust is created by inclusive actions. Inclusivity and trust lead towards peace.
Sports and Youth Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba’s announcement that Kenya will start working on a national action plan through multi-stakeholder engagement was welcome news.
“Young people know where the shoe pinches and have very practical solutions on how to get a long-term peace. We desire to see young people being given the opportunity to champion and be at the forefront during the entire process both at formulation and implementation of the National Action Plan”, emphasise Purity Njathi and Waleelah Kokonya, volunteers from Kenyan YMCA Peacemakers.
“Instead of a quick gain, we expect to see a genuinely inclusive, youth-led process leading to a sustainable National Action Plan. YMCA Kenya and Kenyan youth are committed to strengthening youth empowerment and participation as well as inclusive peacebuilding. The same is expected of policymakers.”, summarizes Beatrice Thuita, National Programmes Coordinator from YMCA Kenya.
Inka Havanto, Program Officer, YMCA Finland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beatrice Thuita, National Programmes Coordinator, YMCA Kenya, email@example.com
Youth, Peace and Livelihoods development cooperation program promotes young people’s livelihood opportunities and peace work skills. The program is implemented with YMCA partners in Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Lebanon and Palestine from 2022 to 2025. The program receives its funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.