Pakistan’s population comprises 68% of young people. Considering the government’s priority, demographic context and international commitments, the country and all stakeholders need to move plan, program, implement and evaluate rapidly to ensure the demographic dividend is reaped effectively. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has prioritized investment in youth from day one of the government’s tenure. The political commitment and will is complemented by mechanisms for mainstreaming youth in all ongoing and new government initiatives. In order to prioritize youth development, various functions of government are focusing their efforts to prioritize youth through their respective roles and mandates.

The role of parliamentarians in this regard is of critical importance as they represent the population (majority is young), legislate for the country and play an important oversight role. Ensuring that youth agenda is strategized effectively in parliamentary businesses, onboarding and contextualizing development with the youth empowerment lens with parliamentarians is imperative. Pakistan has 67 young parliamentarians across national and provincial assemblies – which provides a great opportunity to highlight and consistently bring up investment in youth.

UNDP is supporting organization and capacity building of young parliamentarians for better equipping them to raise and defend youth agenda. As part of its broader support, UNDP supported Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to develop a strategic plan to systematically prioritize and mainstream youth in their businesses as parliamentarians. Human centred design thinking was used in partnership with IDEATE for strategic planning.


‘Unless youth is systematically invested in and prioritized at all levels, we cannot fully develop. For pushing through the youth agenda, it is very important to address systematic obstacles and engage all stakeholders in meaningful discourse’

Syed Fakhar Jehan (MPA Buner)

A two-day workshop reviewed data/statistics pertaining to youth, key roles of parliamentarians, youth needs (from research reports and experience of parliamentarians with general communities and needs from their constituencies) and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa youth policy. Innovative approaches were discussed by parliamentarians for ensuring inclusion and to prioritize key youth issues using the 3 ‘E’ framework (Education, Engagement and Employment). The importance of inclusion and respect for diversity was a constant priority voiced by young parliamentarians for all initiatives. Review of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s youth and digital policies is proof of proactive and responsive policy making. Parliamentarians emphasized Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is not only making commitments for youth development but is also investing in it through relevant budgetary allocations. For example, specific budgetary allocation has been made for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Impact challenge.

‘Creating opportunities has to be a key element of the work policy makers do – without viable opportunities and inclusive innovative approaches, young people’s potential cannot be fully harnessed’ 
Kamran Bangash (Special Assistant to CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on IT)

The discourse and discussion resulted in a draft strategic plan for YPF. Key prioritized issues included access to education, quality of education (for all streams – formal education, seminaries, technical institutes) and capacity building of teachers for Education. Priorities for engagement included mental health and wellbeing, access to soft skills/life skills-based education, inclusion for all groups, access to recreational, sport and civic activities and mainstreaming youth in policy making process/investment in realization of political rights. The priorities for employment included investment in small and medium enterprises, ease for doing business, access to financial services, inclusive access to employable skill building programs, opportunities for young people to acquire relevant experience for employment (e.g. internships) and mainstreaming vulnerable and marginalized youth and improved career counseling and guidance opportunities for young people. The prioritization exercise was conscious of using technology for development and ensuring the means of engaging, educating and employing young people should include digital means.

‘We cannot achieve sustainable development unless we address gender inequality. We must ensure the women get all the opportunities that men do to ensure the we leave no one behind’
Somi Falak Niaz (MPA)

The event provided an opportunity for open discourse and networking. The young political leadership of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is committed to advance an inclusive and participative youth development agenda through the YPF’s strategic plan. It is only through inclusive planning and actions that we can ensure each young person can become #KamyabJawan.

 

Authors:

Dr Sumera Shams
Dr Sumera Shams is the youngest MPA of KP assembly. She is affiliated with PTI and is from Lower Dir. She chairs the standing committee on health in provincial assembly KP and is the first female member of Public Accounts Committee. She is a strong advocate of women's empowerment and public health. She was the first women to cast a vote in Dir in 2013.

Yusra Qadir 
Youth Engagement and Social Inclusion Specialist
Yusra Qadir works at UNDP as Youth Engagement and Social Inclusion Specialist. She has rich experience of working with civil society, vulnerable groups and public institutions for driving long term development efforts. Mainstreaming vulnerable groups in governance processes, working on meaningful social inclusion and evidence basedadvocacy are her primary interests

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