The Southern African region (SADC) has a large youth population and low levels of decent employment for its youth, resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. The lack of formal employment, irregularity of work and social protection means that youth in the SADC region face poverty and inequality.
Researchers have described the effect of this insecurity on youth as a ‘transitional limbo’. Without a secure income, young people are unable to meet their social roles that accompany adulthood. These challenges are compounded by a lack of credible information and a lack of mobilisation around youth employment. Youth voices in designing and implementing prevalent national and regional youth employment strategies and policies has been limited.
The Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE) was formally established in February 2016 by the Economic Justice Network with the Commonwealth Foundation’s support. The Alliance is made up of representatives from trade unions, church councils, student unions, and civil society organisations across nine Southern African nations. Trade unions, churches and the civil society organisations, cumulatively have considerable potential power to determine the shape of policy for youth employment in Southern Africa.
The Economic Justice Network (EJN) performs as the Secretariat of SAAYE. SAAYE aims to play a coordinating and facilitating role for youth formations to inform and influence public discourse about youth employment; contribute to reforming employment and youth related policy; and, to hold governments accountable to their commitments to address youth unemployment across the SADC region – both nationally and regionally.
The Commonwealth Foundation’s capacity development approach has facilitated training, engagement and development of structures within the Alliance. A six member Working Group serves as the highest decision-making body of SAAYE. They also represent the Alliance at events such as the SADC-CNGO Civil Society Forum and to plan regional actions.
In 2008, Southern Africa governments signed and adopted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, which integrates and mainstreams gender issues in the region. The Protocol is now under review.
Gender Links will enable civil society organisations from eight Southern Africa countries to work with the SADC Gender Unit and governments on drafting a revised Protocol on Gender and Development, and to follow up on its implementation. This will include gathering case studies on gender equality from civil society, local and national government in the region, and using the Citizens Score Card to gather citizen perspectives on progress made by their governments towards gender equality.
It is expected that by the end of the project, a new Protocol with civil society input will have been adopted by the Southern Africa Development Community. Civil society will also have acquired the necessary tools to track progress towards achieving gender equality in line with the new Post-2015 development framework.
Gender Links, South Africa
Gender Links works with partners at local, national and regional level to: produce evidence based research on gender gaps and progress in the SADC region and use it in advocacy efforts; promote gender equality in all areas of governance; foster a gender movement through coalition building; and, build capacity of civil society to engage in processes that advance gender equality and justice. Gender links coordinates an alliance of 15 national networks, comprising 40 organisations, and nine regional networks. Organisations from the alliance based in the eight target countries will be involved in country activities such as in the delivery of workshops, collation of a matrix of indicators and case studies.
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By involving people in marginalised and rural communities in the processes that determine their health services and policies, health outcomes for those communities will be improved.
Health Poverty Action is helping civil society organisations in Kenya, Namibia and Rwanda to build their capacity to share best practices for the participation of marginalised groups in health service governance. This project is looking at the participatory structures that are already in place in three African countries – Kenya, Rwanda and Namibia – and exploring how they can be enhanced, documented, and potentially scaled up and shared with other countries.
At the moment, a Community Conversation approach is being used in Kenya, where solutions are directly sought from communities themselves through discussion sessions with community leaders and influencers, facilitated by trained moderators. In Namibia, designated Clinic Health Committees (CHCs) support dialogues with health service providers to make sure solutions are relevant, culturally appropriate and fit to meet the needs of the communities. And in Rwanda, the traditional Ubudehe social protection system sees communities – under the guidance of trained facilitators – select a priority community project from a list of options and decide collectively on actions to take.
With a grant from the Commonwealth Foundation, Health Poverty Action is helping civil society organisations in each of these countries to build their capacity to support and enhance these systems. The organisations in Namibia and Rwanda are supported in building Kenya’s Community Conversation into their systems, while also being trained in participatory methods that help them to draw inputs and contributions from communities that have previously been unable to make their voices heard on this vital aspect of their existence. In each country meetings will be held with decision makers to share their learnings on participatory methods, with the aim of embedding the on-going contributions of these under-heard communities into the fabric of their national healthcare systems.
The Commonwealth Foundation awarded a grant of up to £45,000 over 18 months for this project.
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