Tanzania is among the youngest nations in the world with the average age of 17 years old. Currently, the Tanzanian government has a total of 48 youth members of parliament out of a total of 393 members. To put this in perspective only 1 in 8 members of parliament is a youth.
In the research done on Tanzanian youth by the British council in 2016 , only 14% believed that youth civic engagement is an important element towards youth empowerment and can only be improved through educating youth about politics. This research reflects the plain truth that is the reality of most Tanzanian today who believe that economic liberation is the sole key in the matter of youth empowerment in the country.
As a result Tanzanian youth have little interesting in civic matters and because of this they have very limited knowledge on how the government works and of the laws and policies that directly affect their livelihood. However there is no clear framework on how youth affairs can be dealt with because until now the Tanzania Youth Council has not been formed despite the National Youth Development Policy being made back in 1997 while at the same time the youth representation in decision making bodies is very poor.
Despite youth being the majority work force and the most active of the country’ population there are no clear strategy to engage and empower them so as to exploit their maximum potential. However if youth understand their unique position, perspectives and experiences so that they understand their impact of their representation in the government offices to the developmental challenges; Then youth who are youth elected for office and those who are running for office can exploit their ability to provide innovative solutions to improve outcomes of their peers.
But what would it mean to have youth leaders in decision making bodies in Tanzania?
A research done by the International Development Research Center in 2015 (IDRC) revealed that it takes an average of 5.5 years for Tanzanian youth fresh from university to get a wage job.While we are also facing a youth unemployment rate of 3.45% .Having young leaders in Tanzania,it would mean that the issues of unemployment and under-employment in youth who make about 34.7% of the population will be given a closer look and in turn greatly improve our economic condition.
Youth leaders will propagate the youth narrative in the battle of HIV/AIDs and reproductive health in Tanzania. Like most Sub-Saharan countries Tanzania battles with the HIV/AIDS , where 40% of new infections come from young people aged between 15–24 years old. Youth are the number one actors when it comes to reproduction and sexual relations, therefore issue of population growth and sexual health including fighting the spread of HIV/AIDs are directly linked to them.
In is speech deputy minister of Labor, Employment and Youth Hon. Antony Mavunde in December 2018, every hour about 72 girls from the age of 15 to 24 are infected with HIV.
Younger members of parliament are known to push for accountability and transparency in the government.The Tanzanian parliament has never been in shortage of a youthful voice actively engaging in parliamentary sessions, members such as Hon. Halima Mdee and Hon. John Mnyika are known for stirring up important questions and activate discussions that bring civilian and governance issues to light. In return, this promotes the rule of law, civilian awareness and good governance.
Youth leaders are known for their tendency to ask difficult questions and press for answers fearlessly.
Young leaders are ready to incorporate technology and innovation to find solutions for their societies. A good example is Honorable Catherine Ruge representing the Serengeti constituency who has readily embraced the Data Zetu project to impact her community in championing for gender equality.
Being born in an era of unprecedented development in science and technology makes youth have a very close and healthy relationship with innovative tools and solutions
The art industry is dominated by the youth and it has been expanding steadily, with the value of art rising and artistic career options increasing. Unfortunately, artists are receiving no significance assistance from the government. Leaders like members of parliament Hon. Joseph Mbilinyi and Hon. Joseph Haule have shown that artists can be taken seriously and have inspired more youth to run for office.
Having youth leaders will mean that a better framework will be established to protect and promote artistic works both internationally and domestically
Young people are open to explore solutions and adopt new technologies. Having young leaders means that we can have bold, collaborative and innovative ideas in our national and international policies, ideas that are inclusive and open to the necessary change in governance.