OPINION: Do young people really have Madaraka?

By Indeje Innocent

On Madaraka Day, we as Kenyans celebrate the moment in history when the country was granted internal self-rule by the British colonialists.

It was coined to reflect the day in 1963 when Kenya attained internal self-rule after being a British colony for more than 40 years.

Since then, we have had a series of developmental programmes and projects under different regimes.

And with the promulgation of the new 2010 constitution during the reign of the then President Mwai Kibaki, the country got a clearer definition of the Equality Act which legally protects everyone from discrimination. And this was indeed a great elevation for women in the civic society.

After President Uhuru Kenyatta took over, the developmental strategy envisaged in his second term in office filled Kenyans with hope.

This is through the Big Four Agenda that was designed to fast track the realisation of Kenya’s Vision 2030 through the manufacturing industry, food security, Universal Health Coverage and affordable housing.

In his speech during the 4th Amref Health Africa International Conference (AHAIC), the President said: “The youth are a key constituency in driving momentum towards UHC and they should never be sidelined. We should engage with and empower our young people, and give them the knowledge and skills to take charge of their health. In this context, I would like to plead with the conference to pledge a special attention to the various health issues that plague that plague our young people. These include teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drugs, diseases like HIV, lifestyle diseases as well as mental health.”

Mr. President, as a young person, I only have one plea: that you allow Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in and out of schools. Our siblings are perishing not because of lack of information, but as a result of acquiring the wrong information.

I urge your government to facilitate coordination between the Ministries of Health and Education as well as non-state actors to develop an age appropriate curriculum for CSE. Prevention is better than cure: let’s provide the right sexuality education (not sex education) to the leaders of tomorrow.

Young people need the MADARAKA to choose to be healthy; the MADARAKA to be in control of all that pertains their lives and well-being; the MADARAKA to realise their full potential, thrive and become responsible citizens of this blessed nation; and the MADARAKA to exercise leadership and oversight role in sexual and reproductive health programming.

Indeje Innocent is a SRHR Advocate

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