On May 29, 2023, young people from the five Power to Youth (PTY) Uganda districts of implementation convened at the Grand Global Hotel for the quarterly Youth Advisory Group (YAG) coordination meeting to elect new Youth Advisory Group (YAG) members and Country Management Team (CMT) representatives.

The meeting brought together 31 participants (16 female and 15 male) from Busia, Mbale, Bukwo, Kalangala, and Isingiro, as well as representatives from the MenEnage Uganda Youth Wing.

The Power to Youth program employs a strategy of putting young people in positions of leadership at the CMT, district, and community levels so that they can spearhead the change they want to see in their communities, and the YAG is one of the structures used by the program to ensure young people’s meaningful inclusion and participation so that grassroots voices are amplified.

The election follows a meeting with 150 newly mapped youth advocates across all the districts, after which each district was tasked with electing at least five members whom they believe would better represent the young people on the YAG.

Out of the five YAG members elected (one from each district), two are then co-opted onto the Power to Youth CMT. During the meeting, the outgoing CMT members, Timothy Kiplangat from Bukwo district and Janat Namugenyi from Busia district, had the opportunity to share with their peers their journey while in office.

Janat informed the participants that when the program started, she was 16 years old, but that didn’t stop her from taking up the leadership role (YAG member) when the chance presented itself. I am now 18 years old, and I will forever be grateful to the Power to Youth program for opening doors for me and my peers. She called upon her fellow young people to keep the fire burning so that young people’s voices are amplified at all levels.

“During my term in office, I have been able to create change within the community by sharing the challenges faced by adolescents and young people. ‘’Every time I got an opportunity to share these challenges faced by young people, I was telling my personal story, but at no one time did anyone suspect that I was sharing my own lived challenges,” Janat explained.

The process of youth participation has a positive effect on young people themselves (those who actively participate) in terms of their knowledge, skills, confidence, autonomy, networks, and opportunities. Mafabi Festo, a 26-year-old from Mbale district, and Yesugusa Emerine, a 19-year-old student from Nakivale secondary school, were the new YAG members elected to be part of the CMT team from June 1, 2023, to June 1, 2024.