“Here is what we want from you.” Young people outline issues that Youth MPs should handle

Two minutes into our interview, Agnes Matovu, 23, a student at a tertiary college confessed that she did not know the Youth MP for the Central Region, where she lives and studies.

“Who is he?” she asked me.

“It is a she. It is your namesake Agnes Kirabo,” I replied as she held her head in her hands.

It is a cycle that was repeated several times during my interview with several youths, many of whom appear detached from national politics and whose interest in politics is limited to the presidential contest.

Yet they are articulate about matters that they think their youth representatives should handle, issues that concern them.

Youths are represented by five MPs in Parliament, four from each of the regions (East, West, North, Central) and one national female youth representative.

Their mandate is to voice the concerns of the youth and lobby for polices that improve the lives of young people.

Matovu said that the girl child has been neglected especially when it comes to sexual health and reproductive health issues.

“Many young girls are dropping out of school because they can’t afford sanitary pads when they are in their periods. Youth MPs should see to it that government provides pads free of in charge to the girls in schools,” she said.

Leilah Namatovu, 27, a hair dresser said poverty and unemployment are some of the key issues that Youth MPs should tackle.

“We are told that government put up a youth fund but we have never received any penny. Where is this money because it can help some of us to start small income generating projects,” Namatovu said.

On his part, John Bosco Ogwel, 31, said Youth MPs need to lobby government to build more vocational schools where young people can be equipped with skills such as carpentry, welding and construction.

“In my village (in Lira), there is no such school. But there are many idle youths who have resorted to petty crime because they have limited options,” Ogwel said.

Shaluwa Apio, 24, said her major challenge was access to good health facilities. Once, she said, she took her young sister to a health centre but it did not have essential drugs.

Her call to the Youth MPs is to pressure government to build more health facilities and stock them better.

Musa Sajjabi, 28, is concerned about rising crime which he attributes to drug abuse among young people.

Sajjabi said Youth MPs need to sensitize young people about the dangers of substance abuse which has ruined many of their lives.

“A friend of mine developed mental issues because he was not helped in time. He thought it was cool to use drugs,” Sajjabi said.

Allan Mukwasi, 22, is a budding footballer.  Predictably, his concern is that sports appears to be neglected yet many young people engage in various sports disciplines.

“Our Youth MPs should task government to put more money in sports. Each district should have a modern stadium with good facilities,” Mukwasi proposed.

Young people have spoken and the ball is in the court of their representatives.

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