Engage South Africa
Engage South Africa
Engage South Africa

Engage South Africa – My Voice Program

Civic engagement and participation in democracy should be part of the conversation for youth in South Africa. Engage South Africa-My Voice is taking an active role in realizing this for youth in Gauteng.

Engage South Africa-My Voice is one of the 2024 LIFSA grantees. Founded in 2017, Engage for All is committed to strengthening Human Rights and Democracy in South Africa through the promotion of youth leadership and civic participation. Engage believes that youth engagement has the power to change our mentalities and shape our democracies for the better. Their guiding principle is that a healthy democracy is inextricably linked to civically active youth.

Data from the Global Youth Foundation (2017) highlights today’s youth and their concerns about political and social justice issues. Youth feel a disconnect with their political leaders and an exclusion from  decision-making spaces.

South Africa faces the same reality. Youth distrust of political representatives is a concern, particularly in a country where a third of the population is aged between 14 and 35 years old. This adds to the general concern South Africans have with the system of democracy in the country. This idea was highlighted by a 2023 Afrobarometer survey, which underscored that 70% of South Africans were “not satisfied at all” with their democracy, while 67% did not align with any political parties in the current political landscape.

Engage South Africa has an important role in bringing youth to the forefront through community level civic initiatives. Promoting youth leadership to create a strong and meaningful participation of youth in democracy, as well as providing platforms for the youth’s voice to be heard is more significant than ever.

Since its creation 8 years ago, Engage has reached over 1200 youths from resource constrained communities in Gauteng, the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, while building over 40 partnerships with public schools based in those communities. Including its indirect beneficiaries, Engage South Africa has empowered 2300 youth in the 3 provinces.  Currently, LIFSA is sponsoring Engage South Africa  in 3 schools from Johannesburg’s townships, in which 76 students are attending the program.

How do the My.Voice and My.initiative programs work ?

Engage South Africa divides its training into two phases. The first one called my.voice aims to fill the lack of knowledge students often have regarding the topics of democracy, civic engagement and human rights. In addition, my.voice endeavours to empower students by developing their leadership skills. This phase as it aims to foster critical thinking and debate through interactive workshops. Engage South Africa has worked with professionals in education to develop an interactive program that is not “taught” but rather experienced.

my.voice is an 8 week program. The program enhances participants’ knowledge on democracy and public speaking skills. By monitoring its beneficiaries, Engage South Africa can proudly claim that 97% of students that attended the program felt transformed by it.

Following this first phase, the program offers a platform for the students that took part in my.voice to create their own civic initiative within their community. This 8-weeks phase entitled My.initiative is the one currently ongoing in the 3 schools LIFSA sponsored. For instance, some students are considering hosting a soup kitchen while others want to help raise funds to buy new equipment for their community hospital. No matter what project comes out of those discussions, we can see that the initial goal of Engage South Africa is met. Students have gained enough confidence to tackle issues they witness daily but that they would not, for different reasons, dare to confront.

To ensure project success, Engage South Africa trained facilitators help participants to connect with decision-making spaces and actors to bring their initiatives to life.  The organization has monitored 66 youth-led initiatives since 2017.

In June 2024, Engage is hosting an annual event to celebrate youth leadership. This will allow 200 my.voice participants from 6 communities from different provinces to gather and  share their insights on their experiences, connect and interact on the topic of civic engagement.

Engage South Africa is a beacon for youth empowerment. By prompting youth engagement, Engage South Africa is taking an active role in empowering  young South Africans for a healthier democracy. LIFSA is proud to help Engage South Africa in this endeavour.



My.Voice : Engage, Speak, Lead.  https://engagesa.com/

Asafika Mpako, ( 14 June, 2023), ANC clings to lead in a hypothetical election, but South Africans’ faith in democracy is weak. Afrobarometer. Retrieved from anc-clings-to-lead-in-a-hypothetical-election-but-south-africans-faith-in-democracy-is-weak

Corruption Watch (26th, June 2023), Democracy not so sweet anymore, say South Africans. Retrieved from https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/democracy-not-so-sweet-any-more-say-south-africans/

M.Moosa and J.Hofmeyr (24th, August 2021), South Africans’ trust in representatives ane institutions reaches new low. Retrieved from https://www.afrobarometer.org/wp-content/uploads/migrated/files/publications/Dispatches/ad474-south_africans_trust_in_institutions_reaches_new_low-afrobarometer-20aug21.pdf

Statistics South Africa (2022), SA population reaches 58,8 million.  Retrieved from https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=12362.

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