RISE UP AND ACT NOW is the main civic education project of MYDF which started 2013. It will empower young people in Kasempa District to take action on human rights, HIV/AIDS and gender inequality at both the personal and societal level.
Zambia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, but despite the return of multi-party politics in 1991 most young people are disengaged from political routes to solve their problems. Some commentators blame apathy, but MYDF believes that by giving this group the knowledge and skills to effect change, they will be empowered to improve their own lives.
The aim of this project is to foster a culture of participation in political life within the young people targeted. To meet this aim young people will be given training in how to set up a MYDF club and take action on the most important issues affecting them. They will also be given chance to write articles on the issues affecting the youths and the articles will be published in the RISE UP AND ACT NOW LEAFLETS AND MAGAZINES. There will be workshops in schools on human rights and the importance of participation, setting up a MYDF club, HIV/AIDS, Drug abuse, Corruption, Human Right and gender. These young people will be brought together for a conference to share skills for effective action on these issues. The skills learnt will then be put into practice with a mass lobby to the government of Zambia on one of the key issues.
By the end of the project MYDF aim to have young people regularly taking action in MYDF clubs to improve their lives and communities.
Why is this project needed?
Youth participation – People aged under 25 make up more than half of the population of Kasempa[i], and if effective democratic governance is to be achieved in Zambia, the participation of this group is imperative. However many young people are unaware of their rights and how to participate effectively in the democratic process. Their participation in political life will hold the government accountable for tackling problems such as the 50% unemployment rate.
HIV/AIDS – Infection rates in Kasempa are, at 6,10% and it is expected to rise due to the main activities taking place such as; Mining and Farming. There are main mushrooming mines coming up in the district and the picture of prevalence rate is likely to change. Kasempa is also said to be a Maize belt attracting traders from Copperbelt province to come and exchange commodities with Maize and these traders live there wives in the Copperbelt and when they come in the district most of these traders mary and others engage in prostitution. Young people are disproportionately affected, but below 15% use condoms with non-regular partners and less than one-quarter of those infected are accessing Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). While the government has committed to providing free ARVs for all, the lack of health infrastructure such as CD4 count machines means that many people are excluded from living positively. Clear messages on protective measures, the importance of getting tested, and the right to live positively need to be reinforced with this group.
– Young women are rarely seen as equal decision-makers and have less access to education and financial resources. Indeed young women have 12% lower literacy than young men[iv] and a third of the spending power. Harmful traditional practices such as sexual cleansing (when a husband dies, his brother will sleep with the widow) persist. This inequality is most pronounced in the rural areas, but remains a massive barrier to development in urban centres as well. This project will help both young women and men to appreciate the benefits of a more equitable future.