The Youth ALLIES programme was recently launched in an effort to foster informed and inclusive participation of Guyanese under-35 in electoral practices with a focus on local Government.
The Youth Advocacy, Linkages and Leadership in Elections and Society programme, abbreviated as the Youth ALLIES programme was officially launched on Friday morning at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.
Youth ALLIES is a three-year programme (2022 to 2025) being implemented by USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC) in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and local stakeholders.
The launch was attended by Unites States Ambassador Sarah Ann-Lynch, British High Commissioner Jane Miller, representatives from USAID, the Government, the opposition and local youth organisations among others.
Youth ALLIES was created after recognising that young people in Guyana make up a significant portion of the electorate and therefore need avenues to play an active role in decision making processes that affect their lives in meaningful ways.
US ambassador Sarah Ann-Lynch said, “It was designed with young people in mind. It was planned with the input of young people. And, the outcomes will benefit young people. Youth play a crucial role in successful democracies around the world, and Guyana is no different. The United Nations estimates that 70% of Guyana’s population is currently under the age of 35.”
Youth ALLIES is an all-inclusive programme, created to accommodate youths of varied backgrounds, ethnicities, experiences – as well as indigenous youths and young people living with disabilities.
The programme will cultivate youth involvement through an adaptive programme design, inclusive approaches and local partnerships, civic and voter education, community engagement and media advocacy.
A section of the Youth ALLIES curriculum, designed specifically for youths living with disabilities, was test run by a number of local participants who praised the programme.
“Many tend to believe that their voices are not going to be heard, or that they will not be taken seriously even when they are heard. The problem can become circular. Politicians may lose interest in responding to the aspirations of young people if they think that they cannot win their votes. This in turn often leads to young people being increasingly excluded from taking part in decision making or taking part in debates about key socio-economic and political issues.”
As part of the programme, youths in Guyana will also receive small grants to implement their skills.