Safe Spaces for Youths – The Nigerian Ecosystem
It is another year to celebrate the Youths across the globe. The International Youths Day celebrates youths every year, while addressing important issues that affect young people across the globe. This year’s theme is; Safe Spaces For Youth.
A Safe space is a welcoming, accommodating and effective community where every individual feels respected and valued with the aim to enhance positive development.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development specifically Goal 11, emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization. Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces to enable youths to interact with family and have constructive inter-generational dialogue.
In Nigeria, such spaces have significantly increased with the growing need for Nigerian youths to become more involved in reshaping the society.
In the last couple of years, communities have been set up by international bodies as well as local bodies to create a network of young potentials with one goal in mind, to change the status quo, restructure the Nigerian mentality and place the most populous black nation where it is meant to be, at the top.
Digital spaces such as Opportunity desk, Whatsapp, Social Good Lagos have aided free flow of information and networking. Civic spaces such as Young African Leadership Initiative, YALI, Leap Africa and The Platform are helping developing young leaders for governance as well as other spheres. Public spaces such as Lekki Conservation Center, Obudu Cattle Ranch provide the perfect serene for youth engagement in leisure activities, promoting bonding among youths. Slum2School Stem and Innovation Labs are planned physical spaces that accommodate the needs of diverse youths especially those that are vulnerable to marginalization or disadvantaged in certain areas such as finance.
That being said, Safe spaces in Nigeria do come with their challenges and is still a work in progress.
Some of the challenges include;
- Mismanagement of such spaces as well as resources.
- Unavailability of sufficient funds to effectively run such spaces.
- Information gap. Many Nigerians do not know about the existence of such spaces.
- Negligence on the part of the government. This seems to be improving however but is still an issue in many parts of the country.
- Diversity remains a huge problem in Nigeria. It seems very difficult to maintain unity in diversity.
All these are some of the major issues still plaguing the effectiveness of safe spaces in Nigeria and if properly dealt with, will yield endless possibilities for a nation that boasts a plethora of potentials in need of the right tools to be World Influencers.
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