Racial and Structural Injustices, a Mombasa Youth Perspective

Addressing Structural Injustice as a Barrier to Meaningful Livelihoods

Structural injustices can be defined in terms of an injustice replicated by a system of rules that persistently disempowers members of particular social groups. Such groups may be defined by racial or ethnic identity; gender identity; sexual orientation; religious affiliation; physical ability; social class or caste; or other regionally imposed
differentiating factors.

We have been talking about structural injustice for many years in development but now more than ever, this issue is at the forefront:

  • Covid-19 pandemic is revealing and highlighting many of the structural injustices globally & locally
  • The economic fallout from Covid-19 is exacerbating structural inequalities
  • Those inequalities are increasing the vulnerability of those most at risk to the effects of Covid-19
  • Growing awareness of the impact of Covid-19’ on the most vulnerable Global movements

GOYN Mombasa chose to leverage this moment and opportunity and increased awareness to contribute to change. This conversation has not been the most comfortable for everyone. But to our surprise, it is a conversation that the majority of young people expressed interest in which saw the hashtags #GOYNMombasa and Justice4Youth feature as a top trend in Kenya during a tweet chat moderated by the youth of Mombasa. The YAG members further hosted a reflection meeting with youth leaders from across the 6 sub-counties to unpack this conversation further.

From the deliberations, youth in Mombasa are rational about structural injustices in Mombasa, and they see it as a threat to positive youth development. Over 90% of the youth who participated in the discussions reported having experienced at least one form of injustice over the last 12 months. The impacts of both racial and structural injustices can not be understated.

In Mombasa, these injustices are adversely affecting young people across all sectors including;

  • High levels of corruption and tribal allegiances
  • Youth have been reduced to mere bargaining tools for political campaign
  • Opportunities have been on a shrinking trend rendering so many youths with no livelihoods at all!
  • Opportunity youth are viewed as only being able to do certain jobs e.g., garbage collection.
  • Idleness has led to youth over indulging in drugs, joining violent extremist groups early teenage pregnancies, and abortions amongst other vices

But young people also agree that they have a pivotal role to play towards eradicating these injustices and the words of Martin Luther King Jn. be the light to drive us all away from this tide of darkness by creating awareness in their communities on their rights and entitlements as well participating in both advocacy and storytelling to put these vices to an end. Young people are also calling upon all duty bearers to enforce without fear nor discrimination
all legal provisions and policies as well as repeal such provisions that might be propagating these vices.

Indeed we can end these injustices and level the playing ground for all the young to access sustainable livelihood opportunities. This is our commitment at GOYN to continue engaging all stakeholders to collaboratively address this topic.

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