Youth Political Engagement Program
Relais de la Caisse
Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for being here. As you know, Togo is facing a difficult period. We have seen over the past several months that when people feel powerless and frustrated, when they feel that the institutions of government do not represent them, tearing down the system can seem like the only option.
But what I have observed during my 30 years of experience working in Africa is that tearing down the system rarely leads to a better system. The paradox is that real, lasting, positive change often comes from within.
Therefore, if you want the system to represent you, you need to join it. This is especially true for young people. In Togo, nearly 60% of the population is under the age of 25, and that number is continually increasing. And yet, this demographic is almost invisible in the political arena.
People under the age of 35 are rarely found in formal political leadership positions. In a third of countries including Togo, eligibility for the national parliament starts at 25 years or higher and it is common practice to refer to politicians as ‘young’ if they are below 35-40 years of age. Young people are not represented adequately in formal political institutions and processes such as Parliaments, political parties, elections, etc. The situation is even more difficult for both young women as well as women at mid-level and decision-making/leadership positions.
For Togo to overcome its challenges and truly prosper, this needs to change. Encouraging greater youth engagement in politics is a priority for the U.S. Embassy.We have therefore designed, in collaboration with the Concertation Nationale de la Société Civile (CNSC) and the “Centre d’Observation Pour l’Etat de Droit et la Démocratie (COPED), this program known as “Youth Political Engagement” to emphasize the importance of youth participation in decision-making, and to provide young Togolese with concrete information on how to engage politically in spite of all potential barriers.
This three-day workshop will equip you with the necessary skills to :
- Increase your engagement in politics at the local and national levels
- Understand the various frameworks for youth political participation
- Deepen your understanding of the decentralization and local elections process
- To specifically address the challenges you face during the early stages of your political engagement
It is also this workshop’s ambition to deepen your understanding of the local elections process in Togo and equip you with basic skills to increase your chances of winning in case you choose to run.
I thank you all for your participation, and I congratulate you on being selected. The fact that you were chosen to participate, means that you are already leaders in your communities. We hope that this workshop will enable you become even more effective change-makers, who can help build a Togo that is more democratic, more prosperous, and more peaceful. Thank you very much.