IFWEA Essay Competition “Worker education for building democratic participation” 2018 by Jeffy Tangwena - Winner YGAP 2018 Scholarship

“My name is Jeffy Tangwena I am 22 years old and a youth member of Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA).  As a way of promoting democratic participation of Zimbabwean Citizens we as ZCIEA conducted voter education to the informal economy workers. Through our voter education informal economy workers managed to have a dialogue with the aspiring political candidates at Town hall meetings, unlike before where political candidates call for rallies  and talk for hours without giving the participants chance to question or air their views.

Town hall meetings were conducted in five major cities i.e. Masvingo, Gweru, Mutare, Bulawayo and Harare. The objectives of the town hall meetings were for the informal economy workers to interview the aspiring candidates on what they would do to stop criminalization of informal economy and also to share their vision with regards to the informal economy. Town hall meeting also provided a chance for the informal economy to air views, or their needs as informal economy workers e.g. recognition of the informal economy, formalization of the informal economy, better working environment.

As we conducted our voter education we focused on three principles namely non-partisanship, objectivity and transparency. As ZCIEA we conducted voter education trainings in a neutral manner without favouring any of the contestants or political parties in the election. We provided education with factual and objective information without interpreting or making decision for the voter.

The purpose of our educational programs in democracy society was to instill the values of cooperation, fairness and justice into hearts of participants. Every citizen in country has a right to vote without discriminated on the basis of color, race, occupation, disability. I would argue that these values are essential to maintaining and improving a functioning democracy in any country. We present democracy as a system that is always happening by being involved in our communities and institutions. Voting every election is only one aspect of being an active democratic citizen and part of our responsibilities as citizens to work together collaboratively to accomplish shared goals and dreams. Any right or freedom that have been granted by politicians have rarely come independent citizen demanding them as a part of a larger social movement

The youths were also part of the informal economy workers who received voter education. There was a growing dissatisfaction among young people in the way politics work and economic developments. Young participants want to participate in politics because they request more information about politics and elections and consider specific institutional that could improve their participation and representation .Youths of today are considered as tomorrow’s leaders so their voices must be heard.

Investing in the youths today is a way to foster peace, democracy, stability, security and sustainable development of the future. It also engaging in forming opinions and taking actions to bring positive change in society and participation is about having right, possibility the opportunity and the support to participate in and influence decisions and involved in actions and activities to help build a better society. They also feel that their priorities are under-addressed in the political debate and clear majority of young people ask for more opportunity to have a saying in the way their political systems are governed for example employment creation and infrastructure development.

Participation of young youths in representative democracy that is what we deserve, voting in elections, membership in political parties, promoting the involvement of organization or debate on youth issues opinion-shaping through youth radio stations or online discussions. We desired in seeking information and learning about democracy and attending, training school youth organizations .So we have many activities and resources through democratic participation that includes voter education ,free and fair elections and awareness of violence and also the right to vote .

We also participated through marching into the central business district to demand justice of in formal workers who were not recognized as workers or citizens in Zimbabwe. When we look at European youth participation in democratic life it has no boarders their participation is shared. There is also use of indicators or resources in the democracy and human rights that includes new family and anti-corruption laws adopted by parliament ,the rights of elderly given more attention  and the minimum basic pension modestly raised ,conflict mitigation between major political parties made with good results .

They have to consider the ability of youth participation in the local elections and improved in transparency procedures. We also need to find non-excluding, fair and balanced way to make sure that all voters have access to the information required and better ways to limit the power of politicians especially in developing countries they should able to raise their salaries and legislate on their retirements above all they should not have power to lead their countries directly into financial ruin due to sheer ignorance of how the modern world works .Politics should not be full time job or even a career.

People from different walks of like would serve for a few years and then go back to their original lives .however, before being allowed to serve all candidates will have to pass a test to demonstrate basic proficiency in a number of subjects to their future work and voting should not be mandatory. Laws need to be shorter and simpler no laws should be allowed to go over 100 pages. The most important aspect of court decisions is that they are fair.

We also need to find innovative ways to curb the power of special interests ranging from the industrial-military complex to taxi driver unions to oligarchies .We can only expect elections to produce good governance if voters can make informed decisions about who best represents their interests, which is why we need to increase the level of voter education and the best way to do that is to raise the voting age, allowing youth to gain valuable life experience before casting their first ballot. The aspect of distrust  between two parties, we urge the adoption of redistricting commissions with the bipartisan support of state legislatures and the electorate ,to avoid the single-party gerrymandering that has contributed to political polarization .In Europe  they can say young youth are as diverse as adults . They have political interests and also have perceptions of how best to influence the lives of their political system .Diversity of civil society organization represented at parliamentary committee or joint commissions advocacy coalitions.

There are opportunities for youth to engage in governance and participate in political and decision making processes depend largely on the political ,social economic, and cultural contexts where socials norms in many parts of the world result in multiple forms of discriminations against young women ,Both formal and informal engagement can be understood as political participation and both are beneficial for a vivid and resilient democracy should be supported There is strong evidence that the participation of young people in formal ,institutional political processes  is relatively low when compared to older citizen across the globe , however young participants face poverty barriers to education multiple forms of discrimination and limited employment prospects and opportunities .

In order to respond to the needs of young people and to guarantee that tier basic human rights are recognized and enforced, young people’s active and meaningful participation in their societies and in democratic practices is important. Meaningful youth leadership require that young people-led organizations have opportunities  and benefits from enabling environment and relevant evidence-based programs and all levels and be included in democratic  processes and practices is also a vital to ensure the achievements of internationally agreed development goals and to refresh development agenda .

In a survey conducted by UN in August 2012, a majority of 13 000 respondents expressing their voices from 186 countries highlighted that the main challenge for youth were limited opportunities for effective participation in decision-making, young men and women feel excluded and marginalized in their societies and communities .UNDP recognizes that young people can engage peace, building, leading non –violent revolutions, using new technologies to mobilize societies to bring about change.

Young people have demonstrated the potential to build the bridges across communities ,working together , helping to manage the conflict and promote peace and young people are vital stakeholders in conflict and provide a foundation for rebuilding lives and communities, contributing to a more just and peaceful society. UNDP supports the youths on projects to inform public policy-making ,training youth as effective leaders ,extending access to justice ,opening space for youth empowerment and democratic governance and 37 proposal were accepted, out of which  9 in Africa ,8 in Arab ,5 in Asia ,8 in Central and Eastern Europe and 7 in United States of America .

Across the project activities include strengthening youth advocacy groups ,providing equality research to interact with public authorities and fostering the creation of national youth council and plans .This unique projects also helped to inform UNDP organizational lesson learning in terms of design and implementation of youth-centered initiatives , taking into particular consideration the development of appropriate and realistic youth indicators during the program design phase and partnership building, country examples are Nigeria. They participated in constitution-review process, Bangladesh UNDP supported the establishment of a national youth parliament to empower active citizens at both and national level and provide an opportunity for youth to contribute to the framing national policy through direct dialogue with parliamentarians and Jordan was trainings to increase youth political participation.

This UNDP supported project mobilizes and links diverse vulnerable groups for youth around access to justice and fundamental human rights in the line with national objectives for better social and economic opportunities for youth, justice and social inclusion. It builds on opportunities presented by the pending expansion of the state guaranteed legal aid into non-criminal areas. This project involves at least 10 advocacy groups of youth who are vulnerable including youth who are unemployed, living with HIV and AIDS have disabilities or migrants or refugees.

Youths learn strategic advocacy skills to apply to their concerns and are receiving support from project in making links to legal aid providers and support networks as well as national legal aid council which aims to develop capacities to support youth empowerment for disadvantaged youth. The project has developed recommendations for revising civil education to better appeal to youth and the importance of political participation it proposes various measures aimed at job creation, social inclusion and youth volunteerism; however there is no substantial activities targeting political participation. The data allows the analysis around political participation and support for democracy and perceptions of governance and corruption among young people .

These findings will provide important background for identifying national-level entry points for engaging young people in democratic governance activities. There are also measures to support youth empowerment that includes promotion of an enabling environment for young people’s participation in a broad range of electoral and parliamentary processes and local governance, including in peace building environments at local, sub-national and national levels. It also promotes young people’s skills and capacities to participate actively in democratic practices including in local, national and global processes for example leadership trainings and there is also the promotion of young women’s participation and presence in political office and decision-making at all levels. Young men and women contribute to the identification and implementation of sustainable solutions.

In the end of the course we say that your vote is your right, your vote is your secret and voter mobilization is enhanced by active exposure to the to the campaign but it requires a strengthening image of the parliament in the mind of the citizens and through higher profile activity during inter-elections periods, an improvement in people’s perceptions of the capacity of the parliament to look after the interests of the citizens.

As a voter through voter education my voice or concern can be heard through participation in consultative meetings and this is stating point of democracy processes through vital engagements.

As a voter I must participate in community activities and develop a sense of ownership in all community development initiatives and also to ask the candidates their plan to bring development and improve livelihoods in the community and the standard of living.

As a voter through voter education I must vote for change especially in our money crisis , no money in the banks , infrastructure development ,employment creation ,better health facilities ,respect workers and human rights ,better education facilities  for example every citizen has the right or afford to acquire education and growth of economy .

There is the other aspect of transition from informal to formal economy and alleviating poverty through transforming informal economy activities into mainstream activities and also decent standards of living for all citizens in a stable economy.”