|by Kassem Daud Kalinleh|
|Published on: Feb 15, 2010|
|At the beginning of the 21st century, the youth organization initiative has come on board in the Republic of Somaliland. The move reflects the competency and talent of youth. It has built a bridge for youth to mount the skyscrapers of international and UN organizations as well as private offices. Consequently, youth organizations have become the only available option for them to develop and practice their leadership roles, which ultimately lead to participation in decision making.
The youth of today have no role in decision-making since they do not have any acting Member of Parliament, whose mandate is on the edge. Similarly, they remain inactive in adults’ minds. Adults still believe the youth can contribute nothing in participation in decision making. “Youth are the leaders of tomorrow,” adults mostly say to excuse them, or simply to ignore their role for the time being. As for the youth, they wait to realize this dream, but their age doesn’t wait. They enter the adulthood stage still waiting for their dreams. This is not an issue confined to Somaliland youth, since youth, universally referred to as being between the ages of 16 and 34 years, are outside the decision-making bodies in almost every country.
However, youth in some countries of the world have made combined efforts towards involvement in decision making while our youth remain behind. In addition to that, a decade ago, youth in Somaliland were beyond discussion. Careers for them were not visible since the country was recovering from severe wreckage. People of 60 years or over were on duty and still working in the offices because of the absence of a pension policy for retirement. Not only is this their future alternative, but there is also no plan in place to enrich the current youth to receive benefits tomorrow.
Similarly, youth have long-standing social and economic issues, as well as health-related problems which have devastated their efforts, cohesion and ambitions. When you ask what challenges they face to participating in decision-making, they frequently raise the issue of the constitution (of Somaliland), which says that only those over 34 years of age can take party in the parliamentary elections. The unclearness of their roles, the absence in their interest and their disarray can also be taken as some preliminary challenges.
The ultimate solution is not only the identification of the challenges. Action must be taken. The youth in Somaliland have expressed their interest of to participate in decision-making in a weak voice. “We had made a number of trials to advocate youth on how to participate the decision making in the country; even we had a meeting with the two houses (the representative and elders), and forwarded the youth issue and discussed our concern, but we have not yet got any response”, said Mohamed Mohamoud (Barwani), the Executive Director of SONYO (Somaliland Nationwide Youth Organization).
Generally, it is believed that youth will contribute nothing to parliament if they are given role in decision-making. Abdirahman Abib (Rabile), one of Somaliland’s youth had a different view on this. “Youth are more dynamic than others; they have new blood that is free from tribalism and nepotism, compatible with new technology and based on nationalism,” he said. “Being youth Members of Parliament can allow them to post on the board all issues effecting youth, come up a fresh initiative based on development, and take part in the race as they are energetic” he added.
Remarkably, youth organizations are places where youth build their leadership capacities, give support to them, and make their own careers to pursue involvement in the administration system. SONYO Umbrella is considered the only center of youth building that has played a pivotal role in youth capacity and leadership building. Thus, the continuation of youth organizations will increase the involvement of youth in decision-making.