The Global Youth Action Network (GYAN) is an international network of youth organizations spanning 180 countries, and headquartered in New York, near the United Nations. GYAN is a youth-led not for profit organization that incubates global partnerships and increases youth participation in decision-making. I visited the coordinator in Ghana, to hear his opinions on the challenges for the youth, their representation and participation in Ghanaian politics.
Mr Anane identified lack of access to education, health care and employment as the main problems faced by youth in Ghana:.This has lead to a high level of poverty amongst the youth. Yes, Anane, says, Ghana has a well organized Student Union (the NUGS, whom I met earlier in the week; GC) which encourages political participation, but political activities in between elections are not largely attended by youth. On the other hand, during campaign periods students and youth led organizations do become active., e.g. by observing the elections. Anane also welcomes current efforts to promote inclusion of youth,for instance by exposing them to leadership possibilities. But, he adds, there is need for more encouragement of the young.
Besides positive stimulation, there is also skepticism on the youth taking up leadership positions in politics. Anane suggests that this has to do with the position of youth in African culture, where respect comes with age. According to him this is also true in Ghana. This could explain why there is no broad public support for political participation and representation of the youth.
But the youth themselves are very active, Anane tells me. They organize activities that range from debates about elections, screenings of documentaries that deal with conflict and the aftermath of war in relation to the youth, and trainings on peace advocacy. These activities are organized throughout youth wings within political and civil society. Its larger aim is to prevent conflict by sharing information in every possible way: even by playing soccer for peace.