The Barbados National Youth Policy Coordinating Committee in collaboration with U-Report Barbados have officially launched a new campaign to build awareness and facilitate participation in the development process for the new Barbados National Youth Policy (BNYP).
Using the power of social media, #MyVoiceMyBNYP is a call to action for the island’s 55,000+ young people to add their voice to the new youth policy by taking the BNYP survey. The survey along with a series of consultations and focus groups are some of the ways that the BNYP committee is engaging youth in the political process of policymaking. These initiatives are designed to capture youth views on specific areas of concern including education and training, health and wellness, crime and violence, entrepreneurship and employment, arts and culture, sports and recreation, as well as youth advocacy, participation and empowerment.
The Barbados National Youth Policy Coordinating Committee is a cabinet appointed group of youth leaders and officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Community Empowerment charged with overseeing the development and implementation of a timely, robust and purpose-driven youth policy. With the support of technical consultants Professor Dwayne Devonish and Dr. Lawrence Nurse, the Barbados National Youth Policy Coordinating Committee chaired by Ms. Sade Jemmott has been conducting stakeholder sessions with various youth-based entities and organisations across the island to gather data on their contributions and inputs into the new BNYP since March, 2021. In addition to these efforts, focus groups, a comprehensive national youth survey, a virtual youth forum and several volunteer opportunities have also been coordinated.
The National Youth Survey, in particular, invites young people to respond to specific questions and is tailored to children from as young as 11 all the way up to 35 year old adults. Speaking to its significance, Chairperson Jemmott noted, “...naturally there are limitations to any consultative process but if every single young person resident in Barbados wanted to contribute, the survey could facilitate it. This makes it the best way to use our voices in this process. The National Youth Policy is a social contract between the youth of this country and the powers that be. It is therefore critical that it reflects our desires and aspirations so that an enabling environment can be created that truly serves both mainstream and marginalised youth. Partnering with U-Report was a critical part of pursuing these objectives.”
U-Report is a tool implemented globally by UNICEF, with U-Report Barbados implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment. U-Report utilises commonly used social media apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to capture the opinions and voices of young people on issues that are important to us. It provides an opportunity for all young people to influence policy and decisions on critical issues. Through this collaboration young people can now easily participate in the BNYP survey by becoming a U-Reporter through simply messaging “Policy” to 832-6775 on WhatsApp or direct messaging the word “Policy” to U-Report Barbados on Facebook and Twitter.
The use of digital technology such as U-Report in advancing the national youth development agenda is a testament to where the BNYP is hoping to take Barbados in terms of affording greater, more meaningful opportunities for our young people.