Wednesday 25 January 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Hon. Munah E. Pelham-Youngblood, the youngest-ever elected Legislator in Liberia, says that young people -who form the largest population in Africa, must take up their role in holding to account their governments on their various pledges and commitments made. This, she says, is an accelerated step towards their improved livelihoods.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the 9th African Union Gender Pre-Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a session titled: “Investing in Young People’s Political Engagement”, Hon. Pelham-Youngblood stressed on the fact that accountability is a critical element necessary for citizens and young people’s access to basic services.
“Openness, transparency and accountability by our governments and leaders are essential for development. The civil society, the private sector and the government must be involved in this process,” she said, while encouraging young people to take part in the various accountability processes available to them.
“In monitoring the resources for better delivery of services and fostering accountability, citizens should participate in different processes, among them: public policy making, participatory planning and budgeting, monitoring of public funds, and procurement monitoring and preparing citizen’s report cards on access to quality public services.”
The Member of Parliament however noted the challenges that citizens face in their quest for accountability from their leaders.
“In many African countries, citizens do not have a voice and dare not speak negatively of those in authority for fear of reprisal. In fact, there are cases where those who have done so have been threatened and even jailed! This should however not discourage young people for demanding for quality services, which is their right. Supportive legislations must be put in place and enforced, to ensure that youth have access to public information and are protected whenever they raise questions,” she said.
Hon. Pelham-Youngblood spoke of the various ways young people can raise issues in their community:
“Young people should complain about unsatisfactory service and report this to the necessary individuals responsible for bringing change. In the event that change does not happen, they could then share evidence-based information with the media, with the latter playing their role in the process of accountability by sharing information with the public.”
The Parliamentarian also urged young people to remain firm in their principles and values even as they demand for accountability.
“As young people, we must never be compromised. We must be people of integrity. I encourage you to remain focused on your goal, and be determined to stand for the truth and seek justice no matter the situation, and regardless of the opposition or enticements that may come your way in order to influence your decision to stand for the truth,” she said.
IPPFAR works with African Parliamentarians through the Africa Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (FPA), in which Hon. Pelham-Youngblood is a member. FPA seeks to create an enabling environment at continental level to promote dialogue and cooperation among Parliamentarians, to increase ability of countries and regional communities, and to establish policies and plans of action based on evidence and in-depth analysis on population dynamics focusing on the demographic dividend.
Story by Maryanne W. Waweru, IPPF Africa Region.