Statistics show that Uganda has the world`s youth population with 78% of the population being below the age of 30. As of 2020, Uganda`s population is estimated to be at 45.7 million people, and 78% of this means 35.6 million people in Uganda are under the age of 30 years. For a humanitarian, that becomes the greatest resource that a country can ever have, yet when misused, abused or underused, that can significantly become the greatest threat to the development of any country.
Youth are the strength of a nation because they are the most energetic, most creative, when watered right; they can be the most fruitful. It is for this reason that they should actually be given the most attention and focus because they are the custodians of the future. The future state of affairs in any country be it political, social or economic is 100% in their hands. So if they are denied the relevant information, and knowledge that they need to become productive, the future is at a great risk of collapse.
Empowerment has been defined as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one`s life and claiming one`s rights.” This implies that empowerment is broad and it touches major aspects of a person`s life including but not limited to; social, mental, economic, political, spiritual, emotional etc. Despite of the fact that the youth make up the largest percentage of Uganda`s population, it is very sad that the unemployment rate of the youth is still at 13.3%. Statistics show that 83.5% of the Ugandan population aged between 15-29 works in informal jobs. This means that most of them are not regulated or protected by the state in their working. As a result, they are more exposed to poor working conditions, exploitation by their employers and in some cases, they become prone to illegalities such as human trafficking, all with the hopes of getting better employment opportunities overseas.
Youth, when misused and abused, can become the most dangerous threat to the development of any country. This is because in the event that they are unemployed or under employed they resolve to more drastic measures such as crime and illegal means of earning a living. When youth are excluded from the political scene of any country, out of frustrating they can cause political unrest in the whole country. It is for this reason that a lot of focus should be put on empowering them and involving them in every aspect of the nation. They deserve to be heard, and they must be included in the problem solving process of society.
Youth should be empowered because they are good executors of programs mainly because of their strength and vigor. It becomes very disappointing when the elders in a society exclude the youth because they view them as a threat to their personal gain and benefit. The elders in society should take up the role of mentorship and mentor the youth and prepare them to take the wheel into the future. That way, we can be assured of continuity when it comes to development.
Youth empowerment should be adopted as a serious agenda through capacity building and training, mentorship, employment and encouragement. They should be given platform to take part in the leadership of any community and their human rights should be respected.
As a way of reducing the crime rates in any country, youth must be kept busy through engagement in productive work. In Uganda, agriculture has been known as the biggest employing sector. Youth should be incorporated into the different sectors in the country and they should continuously be included.
Youth empowerment should be taken seriously and more money should be allocated to do this. The education sector should be manipulated in such a way that it encourages creativity among the youth, so as to produce more job creators than job seekers. By so doing, the need to hire fore expatriates will be reduced as more of our own will be employed in every sector of the economy.
It is also key to empower the youth because by so doing, the other resources of a country can be put to use by those who are actually affected by the problems and challenges in society. Those who have been pressed by the pangs of poverty can be able to tailor local solutions to the local problems and create employment opportunities that fit into their societies. This makes implementation of all problems easy, because they are embraced by the local people in the community. And they are able to ensure that it works.
It is also, important to know that one does not need to be in a position of leadership or influence in order empower youth. All that is needed is to have the passion and you can do this through peer to peer influence.
Empower the youth, because they are the strength of any nation.