Caritas Official Urges “meaningful participation” of Youth in Sierra Leonean Politics

Credit: Caritas Freetown

Concerted efforts need to be made for the youth in Sierra Leone, especially women, to have a “meaningful participation” in politics and peacebuilding initiatives in the West African nation, the Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in the country has said.

In his keynote speech delivered during the launch of the “Youth in Politics and Peacebuilding” Project, Fr. Peter Konteh highlights entities that can facilitate youth participation in decision-making processes in the country, including the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and political leaders at the grassroots.

“I urge our politicians, paramount chiefs, security structures, Election Management Bodies, especially the Sierra Leone National Electoral Commission … Civil Society Organizations invited here today to unite their voices into a commitment for action to improve the lot of youth in politics and peacebuilding,” Fr. Konteh said Tuesday, May 23 at Sherimem’s Hotel in Waterloo City, Sierra Leone. 

When stakeholders unite their voices, the Sierra Leonean Caritas official said, “we can develop and implement policies that facilitate the meaningful participation of young people, particularly young women, in politics and peacebuilding.”

Some of the factors behind underrepresentation of young people in decision-making processes, he said, include the fostering of retrogressive cultural beliefs and norms, limited access to civic education, high rates of illiteracy, low awareness of civic responsibilities, inadequate economic empowerment, lack of entrepreneurship skills, and limited technical expertise, among others.


Fr. Konteh underscored the need to “dismantle these obstacles and create an inclusive environment that empowers young women to be active participants in shaping their nation's future.”

“Let us work hand in hand to break down barriers, provide education and skills training, and create an environment where our youth can thrive,” he added.

The award-wining Catholic Priest said that the under-representation of the youth in Sierra Leone’s politics and peacebuilding initiatives exposes young people to the “risk of politically motivated reaction, such as violence.”

“Youth, especially women and persons with disabilities, find themselves exposed and severely affected by conflicts, while they struggle for inclusion in economic and social opportunities,” he said during the launch of the project that the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Caritas Sierra Leone, and the National Youth Commission Sierra Leone organized.

The member of the Clergy of Freetown Archdiocese went on to say that involving Sierra Leonean youth in decision-making processes and peacebuilding initiatives “will not only ensure a more inclusive and just society but will also lay the foundations for sustainable development and prosperity.”

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He lamented discrimination on the basis of political affiliation, saying, “It is distressing to witness young men, who should be the bearers of hope, becoming victims and perpetrators of violence due to their political and social association.”

Fr. Konteh called for concerted efforts from all in Sierra Leone in working toward “a society that values diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities for all.” 

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.