A Look Beyond the 2017 Kenyan Elections: Empowering Young People Through Mentorship

Publication Date: 
5 Jun 2018

News Type:

On May 6, 40 Kenyan youth leaders graduated from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems' (IFES) Youth Mentorship initiative as part of a youth civic and voter education project called Changamka, a Swahili word which loosely translates to "take action." Having gone through three months of leadership workshops and connecting with peers and mentors, the graduates are confident to serve as change agents within their communities across the country.

The Changamka Youth Mentorship initiative, implemented by IFES local partner Emerging Leaders Foundation under the Global Affairs Canada-funded Kenya Electoral System Support program, aimed to further build youths' skills, assets and competencies, as well as foster healthy relationships to increase their strategic and productive participation in governance and policy processes beyond the 2017 Kenyan general elections. Grounded in three key pillars – discover, connect and impact – the initiative's logic model allows IFES to support male and female youth in identifying and exploring civic engagement opportunities through non-formal educational and practical learning experiences.

Kevin Otieno, a Changamka Youth Mentorship graduate, describes the initiative as "a game changer." During the mentorship period, he was able to discuss the challenges faced by youth in their community with Nairobi county government officials and advocate ways to increase the opportunities available to them. He also visited the National Youth Council, an agency under the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, to participate in youth policy review processes and further promote youth engagement in decision-making. When talking at the graduation ceremony about potential future endeavors to influence policy frameworks and address challenges facing Kenyan society, Kevin said he was "fired up and ready to go."

Co-designed with Kenyan youth leaders previously engaged in IFES activities, the Youth Mentorship initiative is an augmentation of the Changamka Campus Ambassador initiative and a conclusion of the Changamka project. In the lead-up to the 2017 Kenya general elections, IFES engaged approximately 300 campus ambassadors to advocate for peaceful and inclusive elections across 40 institutions of higher learning. After the elections, IFES held a series of feedback sessions with these campus ambassadors, who helped IFES design the Changamka Youth Mentorship initiative to further unlock youths' potential for transformational change in their communities.