Youth in Action - A Success Story From Burkina Faso

This blog is by Cheick Faycal Traore, a One Young World Ambassador for Burkina Faso. Cheick has recently been appointed as The Special Envoy for Youth Inclusion in the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Governance of Burkina Faso, as the country shakes up its political system after the October 2014 uprising.


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In October 2014, Burkina Faso saw the most unforgettable and massive insurrection of its history with the overthrow of President Compaoré's regime. This act of popular will has opened the doors to build a stronger democracy in Burkina Faso and has allowed us look forward to new possibilities and dreams.

As is often the case, it was the youth that led the insurrection in Burkina Faso. Young people were the agents for change but, unfortunately, they were also the ones whose sacrifices and losses cannot be understated. In the months after the October uprising, of the 28 activists who have been recognised as national heroes in Burkina Faso, 19 of them are under 35. Indeed, the Burkinabé youth have always had a strong culture of activism. We strongly reject constant suffering and being put under pressure by our political leaders. This culture of youth leadership and activism has been apparent throughout our history. The popularly supported coup of 1983 was initiated by young soldiers under the direct orders of Burkinabé military leader, Thomas Sankara, who was just 33 at the time.

The recent uprising in October occurred because the Burkinabé youth were disillusioned and weary regarding the absence of any youth representation in the political decision-making process, despite making up nearly 73% of the entire population. The marginalised Burkinabé youth showed their displeasure by orchestrating a well prepared and well planned uprising.

The youth community organised itself and, through educational programmes and numerous civic organisations, they were able to gain knowledge, which allowed them to become civically engaged citizens of Burkina Faso. Currently, there are nearly 2000 youth led organizations within the country and young people are extremely active through diverse initiatives that have many positive social impacts. This helped bring together other members of the population and brought about the popular uprising against the entrenched Burkinabé political leadership.

After the insurrection, concrete actions have been taken to increase youth participation in politics. One example has been the creation of a new official position, The Special Envoy for Youth Inclusion in the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Governance of Burkina Faso. This office is directly linked to the Prime Minister and has been given the full authority to interact with all civil organisations. I had the privilege and honour to be appointed and now I can serve my country through a highly strategic and important position in the government.

My role is to manage the entire youth community and to ensure that their opinions are taken into account at all levels of political negotiations and all the way through the decision making process. The government has also created an official framework for youth meetings and a national treaty for youth is currently being produced. The aim is to offer a legal and open structure for youth-led organisations to interact with the political leaders in order to build an inclusive political system.

I am so proud to be included in this process and that I can represent the future of the Burkinabé youth. The time of inactivity has gone!