Never Again Rwanda has called upon the youth to properly use the existing safe spaces by participating in the decision-making processes at all levels.
The message was delivered during celebrations for international youth day under the theme: Safe space for youth.
This year, the UN’s International Youth Day is championing safe spaces for youth - places where young people can come together, express themselves, and participate in decision making.
In peacebuilding, creating these safe spaces is a vital first step in allowing young people to share their experiences of conflict, and work towards achieving a more peaceful future.
According to Dr Joseph Nkurunziza, the Executive Director of Never Again Rwanda, the Government created various spaces for the youth to voice their diverse opinions but the youth participation is still low.
Hon Bamporiki Edouard speaking at Never Again Youth celebration
This may have a consequence to the future whenever the youth who are future policymakers don’t feel total ownership of these programmes, he said.
These platforms include, Itorero, Umuganda, general assemblies, evening community forum (Umugoroba w’ababyeyi), among others.
“ If the future of the country and the world in general is to be entrusted into the hands of our younger generation, then providing them safe spaces today is one way to ensure that the future will be safe and bright,” said Nkurunziza.
He added that safe spaces not only link people for dialogue but also create a basis for further sustainable economic empowerment project after building trust among themselves.
Youth participants used IYDRwanda18 as an open space to share their experiences from their existing spaces a
“For instance, through our healing platforms, some young people who experienced hatred toward others belonging to a different ethnic group have experienced the power of these platforms, by getting to speak out their feelings towards one another and, in the process, create strong bonds,” he claimed.
With the aim of promoting peace values, Never Again Rwanda has created over 100 youth spaces (300,000 beneficiaries) on issues concerning conflict and peace, healing spaces, youth empowerment sessions on critical thinking skills and civic awareness, among others.
“Safe spaces are important to us young people, as they encourage us to take charge of our lives, address our situations and then take action by ourselves, in order to improve and transform our respective communities,” said Jean Marie Munyaneza, a participant.
On the other hand, Edouard Bamporiki, the Chairman of National Itorero Commisssion, called for greater commitment to listen to the voices of young people and open pathways for their meaningful participation in decisions, especially those that affect them.
“We all have what to say. Youth equally have the right to think differently from their parents. This is the education we should give them. Youth’s thinking should be nourished to build the country,” he said.
He added that the youth have the power to act for peace and the vision and ideas to achieve a better future for themselves and their communities.