As debate on the proposed constitution rages on, issues to do with the youth seem to be swallowed in the political frenzy, especially due to contention on land and the kadhi’s courts.
Kenyan youth and, as we call them, Buzzers, make up a majority of the population stand to gain much in the new constitution if it passes the August 4 referendum test.
The proposed constitution defines youth as persons who are aged between 18 and 35 years of age.
Even with emerging contentious issues, the proposed constitution provides an opportunity to deal with the socio-economic and political inequality facing young people.
The new constitution will enshrine many provisions that uplift the youth from the status of a marginalised group that has been perpetuated by weak institutions in the country.
The elaborate Bill of Rights, touted to be the most advanced north of South Africa, has an entire section on the youth.
Article 55 requires the government to put in measures and programmes that ensure that the youth access education, training, representation and employment.
It has provisions that require the government to ensure that young people are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation.
Early marriages and female genital mutilation are some of the issues that have been facing young women in Kenya presently.
The provisions of the proposed constitution require that the government ensures that young people are represented and participate in political, social and economic spheres.
Not only is the government required to ensure that the youth access education and training but also ensure that they can also get jobs.
Other provisions that cater for the entire population and more specifically to the youth include Article 43 which recognises socioeconomic rights including food, healthcare, housing, education and social security amongst others.
Chapter 8 that deals with representation in Parliament gives space for the youth who are often bullied out of elective politics in the country.
Article 97 provides that the 12 nominated MPs in the National Assembly be drawn from persons representing special interests.These are listed as the youth and persons with disabilities.
Article 98 provides for two youth, one woman and one man, representatives in the Senate.There also sixteen special seats in the Senate and 47 in the National Assembly for women a category in which many youths fall in.
The introduction of dual citizenship also gives young people a chance to take up opportunities beyond the borders and easily come back home and get involved in national development.
Many may have reasons to reject the proposed law in August but the youth can ensure that the gains promised therein are not lost.
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PS: This article first appeared in the Buzz Magazine inside the Sunday Nation on June 6, 2010. Check out the next article this Sunday and remember to send your questions and suggestions to the address above.