Promoting Youth Participation and Influence in Zambia and Malawi
In Zambia and Malawi today, most members of political parties are young people (18-35), but the leadership positions are almost always held by people above the age of 50. In the same way, even though young people make up a large part of the electorate, they have very low political representation. In Zambia and Malawi, only 0.7 per cent of the seats held by parliamentary parties are occupied by persons under 35. As a consequence, youth-specific issues are rarely prioritised, and youth rights are not respected.
Through the Program for Young Politicians in Africa (PYPA), Green Forum collaborates with other party-affiliated organisations to promote human rights, youth participation and gender equality in politics for a new generation of politicians in Africa. While the PYPA program altogether covers 16 African countries, Green Forum is responsible for its implementation in Zambia and Malawi. The program – a leadership academy for youth active in political parties that are represented in the national parliaments – consists of trainings, mini-projects, alumni activities and support to mother parties. For us, human rights and equal participation is at the core of green principles in politics.
The Youth Study
In 2021, Green Forum commissioned a study which identified a number of obstacles to youth participation in their parties, including the absence of youth policies, lack of independent youth wings, and a general lack of trust in youth by party leadership. These findings were then presented and discussed at national round table discussions with all parties. Importantly, all parties supported the recommendations and vowed to implement relevant policies to address them.
The Youth Study recommends that political parties:
- Adopt the AU age definition of youth (a person between 18-35 years)
- Ensure guaranteed representation of youth
- Strengthen the autonomy of youth wings
- Develop party-specific youth policies
- Enhance multiparty youth platforms
In 2022, Green Forum is continuing to champion this work by providing technical support to the parties as they implement recommendations.
Developing Policies Against Sexual Harassment in Political Parties
Sexual harassment in political parties is one factor that keeps women, especially younger ones, out of active politics and thereby reduces their possibilities to make their voices heard. To sensitise parties to this problem, Green Forum Sweden organised two gender-mainstreaming workshops in which young women shared their experiences of how they have been harassed sexually when trying to advance their political careers. The testimonies served as a wake-up call for the senior party officials attending the events. Green Forum Sweden is now supporting two parties in Zambia to develop and implement internal policies against sexual harassment.
- Proscardness Mwiinga is a young politician who wants to increase the influence of youth in Zambian politics to make her country better. Through the Program for Young Politicians in Africa, she has grown her confidence, networks and insights.
- “This program for young politicians has meant incredibly much. What I learned was so fantastic. It has sharpened my political intelligence,” says Proscardness Mwiinga.
- “Through everything I learned, my colleagues began looking up to me. And others, young people, got in touch and wanted to engage in politics,” she continues.
- When she finished the program, she decided to run for the position as Mayor in the region Lukanga in Kapiri Mposhi. She used social media to reach young voters, and it worked. Today she is the Mayor, responsible for Lukanga.
- “PYPA gave me self-confidence. I learnt that we, the young are the leaders; we actually constitute the majority of Zambia’s population. In the next election in 2026, I will run for a seat in the Parliament,” she says.
Link to photo and article on Sida’s website
De vill öka makten för unga i Zambia | Sida