Politics & Government
So We Vote
Jake Romani Backhouse, 18, is a youth policy maker and political activist who works as the director of politics and government at So We Vote, a nonprofit organisation seeking to increase youth voter turnout and to bring political education to young South Africans.
At only 18, Jake has achieved a lot in the youth advocacy space as a youth policy committee member at the South Africa Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA). He was involved in South Africa’s Youth Statement to COP27 as a facilitator during the process; a Junior City councillor for the City of Cape Town; and a member of the South African Brics Youth Association.
Jake is involved in South Africa’s climate mitigation project and worked closely with the Presidential Climate Commission as an SAIIA member in bringing about the just energy transition and investment plan. He is a member of the Chatham House Youth working group where he works on issues such as climate change, socio-economic development, geopolitical and European Union-African Union relations.
He believes in the development and upskilling of young people in Africa. Jake aspires to be a diplomat for South Africa and he aims to strengthen relations between South Africa and global superpowers but also to form strategic partnerships that will benefit African nations.
Currently doing matric at Montgomery & Miller Academy in Cape Town
- Graduated from the Cape Town Junior City Council South African Institute of International Affairs Young Leaders Conference
- Certificate of Completion, Nelson Mandela Children Parliament Participation
Back in 2019 when I was 14 years old I was watching the State of the National address which was rather chaotic and it was at that moment that I thought that I wanted to get into the field of politics and government to make a change in the South African political environment and to ultimately make a difference in the lives of South Africans. That may sound rather cliche but there was just this spark in me that made me realise this. 2020 came with COVID-19 and that is where I really entered the space of civil policy engagement when I joined the youth at the South African Institute of International Affairs. Ever since joining youth@SAIIA, I have been involved in many fantastic opportunities where I have seen myself grow as a person.
Stop waiting until the final moment to do something, when that spark of inspiration hits, go for it and do it!
I want to see South Africa as a country that has young people, mainly young black females at the centre of government and private sector corporations. I want to see a South Africa that is a magnet for foreign direct investment, not to see South Africa sold to foreign countries but rather foreign companies coming in to invest in South Africa and to create jobs. I want to see an education system that produces graduates that will be in high demand in the job market, our current education curriculum needs a complete overhaul, we need to amend it to produce the skills that will meet our economic needs. South Africa has major potential and it saddens me to see that this potential is not being exploited for the benefit of the 60 million of us. I believe that young leaders are exactly what South Africa needs, we are young, full of energy, innovative and creative.