Youth Empowerment, a Requisite for Rural Development: Case of the Chimanimani District of Zimbabwe
Keywords:Policy, Sankofaism, Matare, Youth, Participatory governance, Afrocentrism
The need for empowering youth is gaining prominence in rural development practice. This is so because it is a viable vehicle for poverty reduction, and sustainable peace, security and improvement in people’s livelihoods. In Zimbabwe, the youth constitute 35% of the total population. This paper is a product of an exploratory case study that was designed to examine youth empowerment in mainly rural areas of the Chimanimani District in eastern Zimbabwe. A semi-structured interview guide was administered to 34 conveniently sampled male and female youth. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data gathered. The youth felt disempowered and were frustrated because their potential contribution to economic, social and political development was underestimated and not fully exploited. They lamented the fact that their inputs rarely influenced policy and development practice. The youth detested corruption and nepotism in the allocation of land and funding for businesses, especially involving ministry officials who they alleged were openly pro-ruling party. Nor did the youth find it easy to assume leadership positions in their communities where elderly men dominated decision making and development space. It was concluded that if the local society recognised and embraced youth involvement in decision making and leadership processes, the implementation of initiatives meant to stimulate rural socio-economic development would be more sustainable.
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