In the endeavor for lasting social change, the need for the engagement of all members of the society cannot be gainsaid. This could not be truer for the youth, who form a higher percentage of Kenya’s population, particularly young women.
It is on this backdrop that the Jomo Kenyatta University Students Association (JKUSA), under the stewardship of the Vice President, Ms. Grace Joy Wanjiku, organized a civic education and voter verification exercise, but with a touch of glam and beauty. During the event, staged on Tuesday May 31, 2022, various stakeholders sought to draw the nexus between beauty and civic dialogues.
Badili Africa, one of the partners of the initiative, works towards cultivating the political awareness and engagement of young women in tertiary institutions who are disenfranchised, disengaged, and disillusioned by politics.
According to the initiative’s founder, Ms. Bina Maseno, it is possible to raise a generation of politically active and engaged young women who are able to influence political governance for social change in their communities and countries. She also holds that merging make-up and beauty with civic dialogues can increase the number of women and girls who engage with political processes for social change.
Her sentiments were echoed by Ms. Wanjiku, who emphasized the need to feminize political spaces and amplify the engagement of young women, Generation Z and millennials in political and electoral processes.
“I believe the young people cannot afford to be passive participants in the process of social change, because we are no longer the leaders of tomorrow. We are the leaders of today, and it is imperative that we have a say on our tomorrow. This begins by holding our leaders accountable,” she opined.
In her address to the students, the Dean of Students, Prof. Fredah Wanzala appealed to the students to inculcate a culture of personal responsibility and sobriety in their civic engagements, and to be active participants in the development agenda of the nation.
“75 percent of the over forty-seven million Kenyans fall within the youth bracket. This shows the immense power you have as young people. You must ensure you are not polarized because of politics, but rather become the voice of tolerance, unity, and cohesion,” she urged.
On her part, Ms. Kerubo Onyancha from the Act Change Transform (Act!) organization, cautioned the students against falling into the trap of voter apathy, urging them to vote the change they need to see. She further observed that there is a correlation between leaders elected and the people’s quality of life.
Other partners present at the event included USAID, and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which conducted a voter verification exercise, and responded to questions from the students on the electoral process.