Children and Youth Advocacy in Africa: Context, Approaches and Lessons

Adebayo F

In many African countries, children and young people have become critical stakeholders and advocates in achieving the ‘child rights agenda’. In addition, the pervasiveness of social media and information technologies has expanded opportunities and platforms for digital activism by young people. Against this backdrop the paper explores the context, content and complexities of children and young people’s advocacy in Africa. It describes the diverse advocacy interventions undertaken to promote their rights, including children’s parliament, participation in national and international conferences, Voices of Youth, ‘speaking to power’ through performances and information campaigns for issue positioning. However, most of the approaches are still donor-driven, adult-initiated and patronising. Besides, the complexity of social change and policy influence and the limitations of digital media create considerable challenges in achieving expected advocacy outcomes by children and young people in society. Thus, the paper argues for a re-examination of existing participation and advocacy paradigms and practices in line with the complexities of development programming and Africa’s social and political contexts. Strategies for addressing the weaknesses in children and young people’s advocacy are outlined.