Youth leaders from 14 districts of Western Uganda are calling for a review of the criteria for the election of Youth Members of Parliament.
They want the legislators to be elected from sub regions, as opposed to regions arguing that the review will ensure that youths get effective representation from their MPs.
Categorized as one of the special interest groups in Parliament, the youths are currently represented by five members of parliament which include one National Youth MP and four others voted from across the Northern, Eastern, Western and Central regions.
Rubirizi District Female Youth Affairs Secretary Annet Atuheire says that their representatives have failed to advocate for the needs of the youth because of the large geographical coverage. She cited the Western Region Youth MP Mwiine Mpaka, who has never gone around his regional constituency, ever since he was voted into parliament in 2016.
Atuheire also reiterated a demand for an independent youth Ministry saying this, could ease management of youth issues. The docket is currently housed under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
The youth leaders made the appeal during a workshop organized to review the performance of workers and youth Members of Parliament over the years. The discussion follows a study commissioned in 2015 by non-government organizations Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Uganda and Kituo Cha Katiba.
Ntungamo District Chairman Asuman Kigongo says that having a Youth Member of Parliament at sub region level and an independent youth ministry will ease decision making
Kabale District Male Councilor Saturday George Kakwenza says the youth should actually have a representative at district level since they constitute a bigger percentage of the population. At the moment, only women, have district representatives in Parliament as a form of affirmative action.
According to Kakwenza, the youth are too many to be served by one regional representative.
Lillian Aber (in featured photo), a Senior Presidential Adviser and Chairperson of the National Youth Council says that having a youth Member of Parliament at the sub regional level and an independent youth ministry is long overdue. Aber says that the move is empowering and could open up opportunities for more youth to contest for leadership positions.
She adds that the Ministry of Gender is too congested with vulnerable groups and often looks at youths and not disadvantaged.