Bring a folding chair to the table: Why youth and women representation matters

Guest Post by ‘Mantsebeng Suzan Maepe

Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

Remember the movie wedding crashers? I am reminded of that movie whenever I think about how young people and women should take the leap in politics, governance, and leadership spaces. What do you do when you are not invited to the party?

Gatecrash! Women and young people must crash the all-male’s club where major decisions regarding their wellbeing and development are made. The youth and women are the most underrepresented in governance and leadership spheres. Nevertheless, one may ask, why do we want a seat at the table?

The decision-making table is where the action is. This is where the decisions that affect our everyday lives are made. The table that affects the education we receive, the taxes, the economy of the country.

If we are to achieve prosperity and development indicated in the African Union Agenda 2063 and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to start practising the SDGs motto, and leave no one behind even at the decision-making table.

Given the complexity of the issues our world is currently facing, such as climate change, rising inequalities, poverty and high youth unemployment, it is imperative that young people and women are in the rooms where policies, strategies and decisions regarding the solutions to these problems are designed.

Diversity in sex, age, and gender matters may bring a different perspective to the table. If only old males make decisions on behalf of the entire population, it results in policies that are not human-centred and may be irrelevant for the target population as they will be based on assumptions.

Human-centred design thinking maintains that at the heart of solutions should be consultations with the affected population. How is a 78-year-old male supposed to make a solution to the issues affecting a 15-year-old who does not feel safe because her teacher at school is making sexual advances at her?

And what about the thousands of Basotho women who are subjected to gender-based violence daily? By working in collaboration and attaining input from people of diverse ages and backgrounds, more smarter and sustainable solutions will be achieved.

Confucius once famously said, insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Why are governments forever leading without inclusion of more than half of their population yet expecting to see progress?

Akin to a three-legged pot, so is development, without two of its pillars; youth and women, it cannot fully operate efficiently. It is time for our governments to decide if they are going to be a hem, haw, sniff or scurry from the book, Who moved my cheese.

Are they able to sniff out change early like sniff, take decisive action in the face of change like scurry,or deny and resist change amid fear of the unknown like hem or like haw, learns to adapt amidst change?

Most young people and women are perceptive and can sniff change from miles away. We need young people’s curiosity and innovative minds and women’s thoughtfulness and ideas to win as the world.

About the Author

‘Mantsebeng Suzan Maepe is a Pan-African feminist, thought leader and SDGs champion. She is passionate about all things women and youth related. For more engagement find her at:

IG: audacioustseby

Twitter: @AudaciousTseby

Blog: audaciouslytseby