Human Rights Agenda has launched a three-month civic education program for special interest groups in Kwale County.
The program targets youth, women and persons living with disabilities.
The group is being trained on governance, electoral process and political party registration.
The project is being sponsored by USAID through Act (Act Change Transform). It is being rolled out across the county.
HURIA Public Complaint Response officer Mwinyihaji Chamosi said the forum seeks to strengthen marginalized groups’ knowledge on matters of forms and stages of impactful civic participation in governance as well as the importance of political participation with a key focus on the participation of special interest groups.
He said it will also delve into barriers affecting special interest groups’ participation in politics and relevant redress channels to build a well-informed and productive community.
“This activity is aimed to sensitize the SIGs in positive practices to support and include marginalized groups in governance and development processes,” he said.
He spoke at Tiwi social hall in Matuga where over 100 people attended the first civic education forum.
Chamosi said the special interest groups are always misused during campaigns and have their rights denied on matters of electoral processes.
He said the youth and women are often taken advantage of by politicians to cause chaos instead of being empowered to take electoral leadership positions.
The officer said the program will see the targeted group take active roles in politics and governance to improve lives and living standards.
He said it will also enhance resilience and accountability in leadership and proper contribution to both county and national development.
“We are aware elections are over but there is a need to capacity build and prepare the marginalized groups to effectively participate in politics and development for growth,” he said.
He said they will be looking for ways to address various issues affecting youth, women and PWDs from vying for different political seats and find possible solutions.
Chamosi said they will soon be engaging various political leaders under the ‘Kiongozi Maskani’ program to strengthen the relationship between electorates and leaders.
He said the special interest group has lodged complaints that leaders normally abandon them after elections and don’t fulfil their promises.
Chamosi said the program will try to address some of the challenges and promote equal development.
Kwale Youth Assembly grassroots council chairperson Ali Makini said the forum has been of great importance to them.
He said many youth youths got the opportunity to learn that they can also take part in governance rather than being on the cheering side and misused for bad political intentions.
Makini said he will be a good ambassador and spread the knowledge to colleagues.
“Many of us didn’t have this information and we thought politics is a dirty game but after attending this session I am enlightened and I will share with other youth,” he said.
A woman representative Mwanaharusi Kombo said the forum will help break the barriers to women’s leadership.
She said many women had submitted to retrogressive traditions and cultures that they can not lead.
Kombo said after getting the civic education women are now empowered and willing to get into politics to bring a difference.
She said they also got a chance to learn the electoral process, party registration and how to be a member of a party which they didn’t know.
“Because of poverty and beliefs that women cannot lead many had given up hope and find it hard to join politics but today we have known our rights and processes to follow to be successful in politics,” she said.
Tiwi Village chairman Matano Ali Zaka said the program has changed his life after living in the dark for years in matters of electoral and governance.