Social media and digital platforms have become powerful tools for young Kenyans to express their views, share their stories, and mobilize for social change. In a country where the youth make up more than 70% of the population1, but face high unemployment, limited freedom of expression, and political exploitation2, social media and digital platforms offer alternative spaces for civic engagement, creativity, and empowerment.
One example of how young Kenyans are using social media and digital platforms to create awareness and advocate for social change is the #EndFGM campaign, which aims to end the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. FGM is a harmful cultural practice that affects millions of girls and women worldwide, and has serious physical, psychological, and social consequences. In Kenya, FGM is illegal, but still prevalent in some communities, especially among the Somali, Maasai, Samburu, and Kisii ethnic groups3.
The #EndFGM campaign was initiated by a group of young activists who use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to raise awareness about the dangers of FGM, share personal stories of survivors, challenge myths and stereotypes, and call for action from the government, religious leaders, and community members. The campaign also uses digital platforms such as podcasts, blogs, online petitions, and documentaries to educate the public and amplify the voices of those affected by FGM. The campaign has gained national and international recognition, and has inspired other young activists across Africa to join the fight against FGM.
Another example of how young Kenyans are using social media and digital platforms to create awareness and advocate for social change is the #PayInternsKE movement, which demands fair remuneration and working conditions for interns in Kenya. Internships are often seen as a stepping stone to employment for young graduates, but many interns face exploitation, discrimination, harassment, and low or no pay from their employers.
The #PayInternsKE movement was started by a group of young professionals who use social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp to expose the injustices faced by interns in various sectors, share tips and resources on how to negotiate for better terms, and lobby for policy reforms that protect the rights and interests of interns. The movement also uses digital platforms such as online surveys, webinars, podcasts, and blogs to gather data, generate discussions, and provide mentorship and guidance for interns. The movement has gained support from various stakeholders, including civil society organizations, media outlets, trade unions, and government agencies.
These are just two examples of how young Kenyans are using social media and digital platforms to create awareness and advocate for social change. There are many more examples of how young Kenyans are using these tools to address issues such as corruption, gender-based violence, environmental degradation, mental health, education reform, and human rights. By using these tools creatively and strategically, young Kenyans are not only challenging the status quo but also creating positive change in their communities and society at large.