Power to You (PTY) seeks to empower adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) to increase their agency, claim their rights, address gender inequalities, challenge gender norms, and advocate for inclusive decision-making. For these to be achieved, young people must be meaningfully involved, especially around the issues that affect them.

It is against this background that the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum under the Power To Youth program organized a capacity-building training on Meaningful and Inclusive Youth Participation (MIYP) for youth advocates and district stakeholders from June 19th to June 30th, 2023, across all the PtY districts of implementation. The capacity-building training was attended by 139 participants (67 males and 72 females), of whom 70% were young people.

During the capacity building training, it was realized that the stakeholders have several biases towards the young people, including referring to them as an unserious group, being money-oriented, and lacking discipline and respect, whereas the young people accused the stakeholders of debating, discussing, and deciding on the issues of the young people and also not allowing them to have a voice across all levels of decision-making.

The heated argument prompted the facilitators to lead the participants into the Value Clarification (VCAT) exercise in which they came to understand how they both have important roles at different levels of decision-making. The participants also participated in a short power walk, which further aimed to raise awareness about the different opportunities for people from different backgrounds, especially adolescents, young people, and stakeholders at different levels and spaces.

Additionally, they were also introduced to the Flower of Participation concept, a tool designed by CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality that uses the metaphor of a blooming flower to describe how MIYP can grow and flourish. It can be used to distinguish between different forms of youth participation and explore whether they are meaningful or not.

The tool describes the core elements of MYP (the roots), the different forms of MYP (the leaves and the petals of the flower), non-meaningful forms of youth participation (the insects), and the preconditions of MYP (the water and the sun). This tool and other group exercises opened the minds of the participants on how they ensure their meaningful participation at different levels and also inform the stakeholders on the significance of youth engagement in addressing issues that affect them. The participants later appreciated the uniqueness that each of them has and how this can be leveraged to better the communities they serve.