U-Report: Enabling Youth Participation in Zimbabwe
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- Age 28
U-Report is a SMS mobile technology tool developed by UNICEF to empower youth to have a voice on the social and economic issues affecting their communities. Through free SMS participants, called U-Reporters, are able to respond to weekly polls and report issues, amplifying their voices at the local, regional and national levels of government.
Through working in partnership with Zimbabwe Youth Council our lead implementing partner, U-Report expands young people’s representation in social and political areas, connects public servants and citizens, and motivates youth to be agents of change in their communities.
Today, U-Report is live in more than 33 live and currently in Zimbabwe it has over 57,190 U-Reporters. The numbers continue to grow with Manicaland leading all the provinces. Building inclusive and responsive societies requires engaging the public in policy making through participatory mechanisms. Since U-Report presents a real-time opportunity for interaction and engagement, it is enabling young people to present their concerns and opinions directly to government and related institutions.
For this reason, UNICEF Zimbabwe is supporting such actions that address youth concerns and empowering them through participatory, reflective and innovative mechanisms. For us at UNICEF Zimbabwe we envision U-Report as an innovative participatory tool for youth to have a voice on the issues that matter to them, connecting them with government and motivating them to work together to build inclusive and responsive societies.
U-Report also provides an alternative platform for women’s participation. Although 57% of U-Reporters identified themselves as male, U-Report is making strides in promoting women’s participation, by creating polls that are specifically targeted at the female U-Reporters, thereby creating referral links to bring more females.
U-Report is also shaping youth interactions, as some are using the publicly accessible poll results and disseminated information to interact with one another and respond to issues that affect them. Through the U-Report tool, young people were at the forefront in mapping risk prone zones and improving community disaster preparedness during Cyclone Dineo. Communities were provided with training on how to properly identify report and respond to emergency signals or signs.
At UNICEF Zimbabwe we have subsequently diversified youth engagement topics to work on areas including child protection, education and fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Gender representation is not equal but is in line with mobile phone ownership. Our recruitment adjustment is to ensure that female U-Reporters have an equal voice.
If you’re interested in learning more visit https://zimbabwe.ureport.in/