By Watipaso Mzungu
The United States of America (US) Ambassador to Malawi, Robert Scott, has urged young people in the country to embrace technology in advancing civic engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
Delivering a key note address during a panel discussion organised by Generation Democracy Malawi Chapter, Scott emphasised on the need to adapt to the new normal and make sure young people’s participation in the civic and political processes is not compromised.
“The fact that we are holding this discussion on zoom should enable us shape our thinking that we can do alot with technology,” he said.
The US envoy further called upon the youth to hold duty-bearers accountable by, among other things, taking advantage of decentralisation and conduct budget tracking in their respective districts.
According to Scott, Covid-19 has negatively impacted the youth in terms of access to jobs, education and mental health.
He observed that most youth are living in depression and are struggling to make ends meet.
Chief Executive Officer for the National Youth Council of Malawi (Nycom), Dingiswayo Jere, commended young people for utilising social media platforms to advocate for various issues of national importance.
However, Jere challenged the young people to do more in creating spaces of their participation and in demanding resources to help youth campaigns on Covid-19.
He noted with concern that in many cases, young people are left out of leadership spaces including in important platforms of Covid-19 response.
Speaking during the session, Coordinator for Generation Democracy Program, Chimwemwe Kaonga, said it was necessary to hold the panel discussion in order to stimulate a discussion that would enhance meaningful youth participation in civic life during the crisis period.
“Covid-19 has affected our participation in civic spaces as such it was important that we come together and discuss opportunities and challenges in order to advance our agenda,” said Kaonga.
Generation Democracy is a flagship youth program for the US based International Republican Institute (IRI) aimed at building capacity of young people across the globe to participate in political and civic spaces.
The panel discussion was organised under the theme “Civic spaces in the Covid-19 pandemic period: Youth Challenges and Opportunities”.
The panel discussion was attended by young people from Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Malaysia.
Comesa Director for Gender; Beatrice Hamusonde, also attended the meeting.