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Youth Political Participation

Young people are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, and while women are often disadvantaged in accumulating experience to run for office, young people are systematically marginalized because of their young age, limited opportunities, and projected lack of experience. As the increased political participation of women benefits society as a whole, the presence of young people in decision-making positions benefits all citizens and not just youth. The Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) reports that people between the ages of 20 and 44 make up 57% of the world’s voting age population but only 26% of the world’s Members of Parliament (MPs). Young people under 30 represent 1.9% of the world’s MPs and more than 80% of the world’s upper houses of Parliament have no MPs aged under 30. While young people often play central and catalyzing roles in movements for democracy around the world, they are less engaged than older generations in voting and party activism. Together, these trends have inspired many international organizations to study the lack of youth political participation and train youth activists to become political leaders.  

Recognizing the potential of youth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed its first-ever Youth Strategy (2014–2017), called “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future”, in line with the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (2013) which calls on young generations to become more involved and more committed in development processes. 2013 also saw the publication of the “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle: A Good Practice Guide“, UNDP’s first review of programming strategies for youth political participation beyond the ballot box. In 2016, to further boost the implementation of UNDP’s Youth Strategy and respond to both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, UNDP launched a Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace – Youth-GPS (2016–2020). The Youth-GPS focuses on civic engagement and political participation, among other areas, and responds to the concerns young people have expressed in global, regional and national forums and the growing demand at all levels for cutting-edge and strategic support in youth programming in all development contexts. In 2016, as a joint initiative of a number of partners including UNDP and IPU, the “Not Too Young To Run” global campaign was launched to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.

In 2010, IPU adopted the resolution “Youth participation in the democratic process” at its 122nd Assembly and in 2013, established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. Since then, IPU published two studies, one in 2014 and another in 2016, using a questionnaire to gather data from its Member Parliaments around the world on youth participation in national parliaments. Through these studies, IPU provides a number of recommendations for action which, if acted on, will ensure young people are fully engaged in politics. These include designing strategies by national parliaments and political parties that target the inclusion of young MPs and ensure diversity among youth, addressing the disparities between the number of young men and young women entering parliament. IPU also recommends to align the minimum age for parliamentary candidacies with the minimum voting age and to establish youth quotas (e.g. reserved seats, legislated quotas, party quotas) as a means of increasing the number of young MPs. In 2016 the IPU membership endorsed the document “Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth”, based on the principles promoted by the young parliamentarians of the IPU: “No decisions about us without us”, that outlines how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy and give the world’s young people a voice in political decision-making.

In addition, UN Women established the Youth Forum at the CSW in March 2016, allowing global youth representatives to discuss the issues they face and to reflect on ways to help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5 on gender equality. UN Women also published CEDAW for Youth in 2016, a youth-friendly version of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) elaborated by young people. International IDEA published in 2016 a report entitled “Increasing youth participation throughout the electoral cycle: entry points for electoral management bodies” documenting the challenges and practices directed at youth inclusion in politics and within different electoral processes.

Objective of the e-Discussion

This e-Discussion seeks to bring the voices of the iKNOW Politics and UNDP4Youth communities into this growing debate on youth participation in politics. Please join the e-Discussion from 03 April to 08 May 2017. Students, young parliamentarians, political party and social movement activists, civil society representatives, youth movements and networks, government and international organizations representatives, and academia are invited to contribute with their experiences by answering to one or more of the below questions. The submissions will contribute to the elaboration of a Consolidated Reply that will augment the knowledge base available on the topic of youth political participation. We look to an informative knowledge-sharing exercise on this topic.

Questions

  1. How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and governments around the world?
  2. What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics, in particular young women?
  3. What can parliaments, governments, political parties, and civil society do to increase young women and men’s representation in politics? Do you have examples of good practices?
  4. What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins…) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?
  5. How can we support more young people who would be interested in channelling their activism through formal political institutions?
  6. What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?
  7. What can be done to support young MPs in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware of.
  8. How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combatting discrimination and gender based violence?
  9. How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence? 

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bachia2017's picture

When we talk of real democracy it is only real when everybody (youths and women) are participating in the decision making, We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major responsibility of it is participation, Africans believe political participation is only for the senior men, No youths and No women.

Annet Mpabulungi Wakabi's picture

1.     Thanks for posting queries on this interesting topic.  Here are some views from Uganda:

do 1. How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and governments around the world?

        i.    1. Uganda representation by young people/the youth – both male and female is provided for by law and policy.  The National Youth Council Act (http://www.ulii.org/ug/legislation/consolidated-act/319) and the National Youth Policy are key precursors for creating an enabling environment for young people to reach their potential.  At parliament level the youth have quotas, so indeed this is a given in terms of numbers.  However the dynamics around representation of young people in parliament and governments are several:

       ii.   ii. Minimal investment in young people to take on representation role: Young people have not been nurtured to debate, present and deliberate on current issues, so in most cases they are left behind.   From my time at Makerere University in Uganda I observe that my former Guild Presidents were indeed leaders including the young people that took on leadership positions in the Makerere Guild Council.  However, often time these potential leaders are not identified early by the older leaders for grooming, nurturing, exposure and encouragement to take the mantle of representation at parliament level and in government. 

iii. Lack of knowledge and awareness about roles:Young people are sometimes unaware of what a representation/political career would entail - beyond attending functions and campaigns.

 iv. Gender Power relations: The older ones are often times not interested to see young ones in their space so they tend to block this space.  Further, the space for young women to participate is hampered by the patriarchal nurture at the household level and externally. 

v. Financial limitation: Young people do not have the resources to engage actively in a context that has monetized politics.  Without the financial muscle it becomes hard and almost impossible to draw attention and votes, nobody will listen.  In some contexts it is no longer politics of ideas and issues but how well one can pay for votes or use money to protect the votes during elections. 

 2.    What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics, in particular young women?

         i.Identify them early from the young prefects, identify role models who can be coached, mentored and exposed for the representation role. Interest in representation starts at an early age, see document example “ Student Power in Africa's Higher Education: A Case of Makerere University, https://books.google.ch/books/about/Student_Power_in_Africa_s_Higher_Educati.html?id=TWMFspwCJdkC&redir_esc=y

       ii.  ii. Through civic education there is need to continuously advocate for issue based politics as opposed to commercialized politics.

iii.  School programmes such as debating clubs, students councils, patriotism clubs that nurture political representation and leadership ambitions at an early age should be revitalized.

 iv. For the young women, parents should be supportive and provide the exposure and space to participate as opposed to keeping the girls silenced and in the kitchen.

3.   What can parliaments, governments, political parties, and civil society do to increase young women and men’s representation in politics? Do you have examples of good practices?

        i. I i. Insome countries  political parties do their recruitment at student level at the universities, these students proceed to work as interns or  staffers in the party. With this approach, the party ideals are inculcated at an early age and one decides from the onset which political party to go based on the ideologies which are also mostly influenced by religion, economic background hence accounting for liberal versus conservative, pro-life or otherwise, taxing the wealthier or not, etc. 

       ii.     ii. Clearly define ideals along party lines or national values  to guide leadership. This would be a good way to interest young people along specific ideals/values

      iii.     iii. The  Parliamentary youth forum and Youth councils in Uganda should be reinvigorated to support representation by the youth.  This can be done through targeted capacity development interventions.

  1. Leaders should be encouraged to evolve succession plan, this should involve identifying a potential successors early and nurturing the individuals to the desired position.

       v.     v. Innovative to create employment and spur economic growth. This will definitely lead shift the terrain of representation from a commercialized one to a better crop of leaders and also an economically empowered youth would be more interested in policies and politics.

4.  What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins…) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?

         i.     i. Position papers based on evidence

       ii.     ii. Lobbying and caucusing to get issues incorporated in key country statements, budgets, policies etc

              iii. Institute forum for quick regular discussions with young people thinking of leadership positions – e.g. Use mobile phones and the internet to create leadership communities that can share ideas, party news and information. 

     iv.      iv.Popularize and raise awareness about good leadership - Young people need to know what is possible with good leadership.

       v.   v.  Mobilization through sports, Music and drama (that most youth are interested in) can be viable entry point to bring about change and ensuring young people are heard.

     vi      vi. Platforms such as the Parliamentary outreach support by UNDP in Uganda UsPeak in also in Uganda, and Australia’s vote flux (https://voteflux.org), that bridges the gap between the closed doors of parliaments and the public should be encouraged – to increase the space for participation by youth.

 

5.   How can we support more young people who would be interested in channeling their activism through formal political institutions?

 i.  Meaningfully invest in Youth councils, guide their debates and position critical issues of young people.  Regional issues could sell better.

       ii.     ii. As there is already quite a bit of political conversation going on social media, improving access to affordable internet would increase the level of sharing and encourage higher participation.

      iii.        iii. Listening to young people, understand their cause, find out who and what they stand for and guiding them.

6.   What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?

         i   i. Political parties and governments need to define their values - what do they stand for and why?  This will help young people identify with parties and ideology of interest for their pursuance. ii.Support young people with sholarships for study, in areas such as political science.

iiii

 7.   What can be done to support young MPs in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware of.

         i i Some lack information or Evidence.  Empowerment with well researched topics and facts, enough evidence on key policy issues, and how to position these issues is critical for representation. Parliament research departments need to be strengthened to deliver on their role.

       iii.   Exposure to national and global issues.  Engage them in dialogue such so that they can follow up on international commitments and domestication according to national policies and guidelines

      iii.      iii. Work with the retired MPs and leaders to mentor and coach the young Parliamentarians/leaders.

     iv.            Clear orientation/induction on their roles/responsibilities and expectation of the public.

 8.   How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combatting discrimination and gender based violence?

         i.            1st the women need to understand what is meant by women empowerment and discrimination.  This should then inform when, how and where to advance for rights with support of fellow women and the men.  Youth have grown up in an environment that advocates for combatting discrimination and gender based violence and thus should be more responsive and accomodative to advancing the respective areas.

 

9.   How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence? 

         i   i  Beyond numbers of representatives, we should look at the policy issues that have been influenced.  These should be clearly documented with the results achieved.  If one is advocating for budget allocation for maternal health, s/he should be able to follow through, how much is allocated, how much is spent on maternal health and what change has it caused - impact.

       ii.     ii. Policy briefs to provide information on key issues and how they can influence at what level and when appropriate.  i.e. timing is key.  For example budgets cannot be influenced when they have been passed.

 iii. Number of youth that are registered voters and those who actually vote

iv. Level and number of youth quota positions that are filled.

How do you explain the low representation of young people in's picture

For the past 15 years civic education has been cancelled in the majority of curricula. The other reason is that politicians all over the world have been doing a poor job to ensure that every citizen gets a minimum standard of living and are the reflection of what greed is. Therefore, they distanced themselves from this corrupted arena. it is unfortunate because their inputs will help to improve the social and economic environments throughout the world.

Anonymous's picture

Food for thought :)IPU research and report on Youth participation in national parliaments 2016 shows that:Young people under 30 make up less than 2 per cent of the world’s MPs.

  • About 30 per cent of the world’s single and lower houses of parliament have no MPs aged under 30.
  • More than 80 per cent of the world’s upper houses of parliament have no MPs aged under 30.
  • Not a single upper house of parliament anywhere in the world has more than 10 per cent of its members aged under 30.
  • Trends for different age groups

  • 1.9 per cent of the world’s MPs are aged under 30 – up from 1.6 per cent in 2014.
  • 14.2 per cent of the world’s MPs are aged under 40 – up from 12.9 per cent in 2014.
  • 26 per cent of the world’s MPs are aged under 45 – up from 23.9 per cent in 2014.
  • Male MPs outnumber their female counterparts in every age group.
  • Encouraging signs

  • The gender imbalance is less pronounced among younger MPs, where the male/female ratio is 60:40.
  • Recent elections have seen a global trend towards more young MPs aged under 45.
  • Youth quotas, lower eligibility ages, proportional representation and inclusive parliaments are all factors that increase the number of young MPs.
  • Best performers

  • Ecuador, Finland, Norway and Sweden are the only parliaments in the world where more than 10 per cent of members are aged under 30.
  • Andorra, Denmark and Ecuador have the highest proportion of MPs aged under 40 in lower or single houses of parliament.
  • Belgium, Bhutan and Kenya have the highest proportion of MPs aged under 40 in upper houses of parliament.
  • More than 60 per cent of MPs in the unicameral parliament of Andorra and in the lower houses of parliament of Ethiopia and Oman are aged under 45.
  • More than 80 per cent of MPs in the upper house of the parliament of Bhutan are aged under 45.
  • Youth and policy-making in parliaments Networks of young MPs, as well as caucuses that promote youth issues in public policy, are present in a small but growing number of parliaments.

  • Parliamentary committees dealing with youth issues exist in the vast majority of countries, but most share their remit with other subjects such as sports, education, the family or vulnerable groups.
  • Parliamentarians under the age of 45 chair less than 25 per cent of those committees, and form a majority in less than one third.
  • Other strategies to engage young people in parliaments Youth parliaments exist in half the countries surveyed. Some have formal ties to the national parliament but most are coordinated by non-governmental organizations, government ministries, schools or other local authorities.

  • New technologies and online tools are helping citizens, including young people, to understand and monitor the work of parliaments, and are also boosting accessibility and transparency.
  • Agripinner Nandhego from Uganda  In Uganda young people are 's picture

    Agripinner Nandhego from Uganda

    In Uganda young people are encouraged to participate in politics through the policy that calls for regional representation. All the 4 regions of Uganda have to elect a youth representative and one national female youth bringing the total to 5. Currently there are 2 female youth MPs and 3 males.

    The youth MPs also have a Uganda Youth Parliamentary Forum where they meet and discuss peculiar issues affecting youths and also come up with strategies to address them in the legislative process. A lot of capacity building for the youth MPs is also done through this forum by civil society organizations and also development partners.

    UN Women and other development partners support mentoring programs for young people specifically to enhance their skills in leadership and understanding of politics and importance of youth participation.

    admin's picture

    By Ibrahim Okinda, PhD in Communication and Media Technology Candidate, Moi University, Kenya

    1. How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and governments around the world? 

    Factors contributing to the above are:

    • Inadequacy of political knowledge, interest, efficacy and sense of civic duty
    • Dominance of the political scene by the old conservative people
    • Poverty among the young people yet politics is a very expensive activity 

    2. What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics, in particular young women?

     An environment with:

    • a media industry that has a social responsibility to positively and adequately cover  young women
    • constitutional and  other legal mechanisms to support young people’s political participation
    • economic support systems for young women
    • political party system that  reserve special seats for young people
    • role modeling by other successful women in public life

    3. What can parliaments; governments, political parties, and civil society do to increase young women and men’s representation in politics? Do you have examples of good practices?

    •  The above should take up affirmative actions through constitutional and other legal mechanisms, and party structures 

    4. What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins…) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?

    •  Political activism via social media

     5. How can we support more young people who would be interested in channeling their activism through formal political institutions?

    •  Support  them to increase their internet access and social media use

     6. What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?

    •  Having political seats reserved for young people
    • Having vibrant youth wings of political parties like the ANC in South Africa

     7. What can be done to support young MPs in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware of.

    •  Research support to enable them to be equipped with knowledge to initiate laws and policies supporting young people

    8. How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combating discrimination and gender based violence?

    • Through their active participation in parliamentary proceedings so as to raise their political stature  for themselves and other young people
    • Youth being active participants in the more involving political activities such as campaigns have largely contributed to gender violence in Kenya as they are used by politicians to  cause such among women aspirants

    9. How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence? 

    • Research that specifically focuses on them and one that is comprehensive to include a wide range of micro-level factors such exposure to media, political attitudes, socio-demographics and youth political participation. Also macro-level factors focusing on political system in place, legal framework.
    • We should be able to do the research on both national and local levels especially in Kenya which has the national and county governments. Local participation in Kenya now occurs at county level and is important to be measured
    Ayaba's picture

    1. How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and governments around the world?

    Low inclusiveness of youth in activities revolving around them. Insignificant provisions for inclusion at all stages of political manifestos. Not recognising that practice makes perfect. 

    2. What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics, in particular young women?

    Informal group learning settings and real time activities around real situations. A long term agenda that grooms them for future roles in politics. This would give required exposure and quality experience to acquire necessary skills because every individual within any given community, is politically oriented and affected. 

    3. What can parliaments, governments, political parties, and civil society do to increase young women and men’s representation in politics? Do you have examples of good practices?

    Parliaments can set up Outreach Agendas like the U.K. has activities in schools, on youth centres and in the communities. These is run by the Houses of Parliament targeted at youth in general to encourage them, to let them know that their voice can also be heard, to give them a chance to come in and have a say. That's only a beginning because I await the day when we would have youth delegates sitting in Parliaments and having a say in current affairs. Globally. 

    4. What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins…) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?

    Social Media is the order of the day and this has its negative and positive sides. It'll be innovative and ultimately effective to have regional youth representations virtually real time. If after each session there's at least one Leadership & Management Mentors to discuss and round off each time. Instead of having explosive reactions to the feeling of being pushed aside or muted. 

    5. How can we support more young people who would be interested in channelling their activism through formal political institutions?

    Organise events and effectuate raised action points. Organise and partly sponsor selected youth representatives who demonstrate the flair for progressive value adding political ethos. Scholarships, opportunities and grants could serve as incentive. 

    6. What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?

    1. Organised mock Parliamentary sittings to develop the skills and flair over time so by the time they are making informed decisions. 

    2. Competitions on current affairs and often participation in political events and/or Houses of Parliament sit-ins, sometimes given opportunities to voice the youth concerns in the community represented. 

    7. What can be done to support young MPs in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware of.

    Young MPs need retreats yearly where they all go away initially as individuals then as a group where the away days would be self reflections and group reflections on how to approach issues differently. The more often this is done as Practitioners, the better their performances as individuals or as teams. 

    8. How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combatting discrimination and gender based violence?

    Gender equality should be a subject in schools just as religion, history or civic studies, science etc. are. Creating a political terrain or advocacy for an institution for (young) women in politics. Have a biannual program for women in politics, where women can access extra Career Development opportunities. 

    9. How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence? 

    Evaluation youth in these aspects remains reliant on opportunities given them. Given a voice and effective inclusion, we carry out analysis of what worked and what could be done differently, then reassess for reimplementation at Enhanced levels. 

    Influencing Policies could be measured by sound comparisons of how it was before changes against goals achieved e.g. a 10 point agenda over a timeline coupled with Consistent Monitoring and Evaluation.  

    admin's picture

    Mercy Idika, PHD student in Public Policy and Administration at Walden University, USA.

    Question No. 1 How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and government around the world?

    Low participation of youth in parliamentary activities stems from the fact that adult participation have continued to over shadow the youths involvement in political activities. The idea is that the adult group 60-70 age group are not well catered for and no provision is made for them in the constitution of some of the countries especially within the developing countries hence despite their age they continue to jostle for political position to avoid laxity and redundancy. Also some of them in other to remain relevant have continued to reduce their proper age and take up a new age which they call ‘working age’ which is an abuse of existence because you will see an adult member of the society who should be referred to as an elder statesman celebrating a fake age of 40 and 50 when he is above 60 years. It is assumed that the reason behind this ignominious behaviour is that no adequate arrangement is made by the government to cater for the elderly in the society and they have no choice than to struggle for political position where there is no age limit. Another major issue is that the adult class is insatiable with wealth because you imagine a former mayor leaving office after eight years still jostling for political position instead of sponsoring youth around him because they have the believe that the only place good money can be made without genuine struggle is in politics. They maintain that they are more knowledgeable than the youths: and believes that their opinions is still viable than the youth without the inkling that some of them has a loose education- a system where people are said to be educated based on their informal participation in social activities without attending the four walls of educational system. Hence they get to the point of forgery of certificates to false age declaration just to be accommodated within the political class. Therefore, attaching themselves to a prominent political figure takes them up the ladder of leadership position without a formal knowledge of what parliamentary obligations are.

    Question 2. What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics in particular young women?

    On the issue of young women participation in politics, the negative approach here is the societal belief that a young woman needs is to first tend the home before getting involved in public activities. Women who are in their child bearing age are discouraged to be active in politics because of the dangers inherent in it. Political activities most times involve violent disruptions, name-calling, slander and absolute neglect of people’s private lives, hence women being in the forefront of privacy shields away from the activity to avoid being exposed negatively. They are the vulnerable members of the society and any act of violent will impede their performance because they will first remember their children and for fear of losing their lives and abandoning the children they will forever shield away from political activities.

    Question 3. What can parliaments, governments, political parties and civil society do to increase young women and men representation in politics. Do you have examples of good practices?

    The best attitude towards achieving active participation of young women and young men in politics is to go back to the drawing board, where the adult members of the society will leave the scene and encourage youth participation. They should act as a backbone to structure the youths and make them function appropriately in the political arena. But before this can be achieved, the upkeep of the adult group should be enshrined in the constitution and be part of the national development plan. For instance in some countries some of the package for adult age group is only meant for serving heads of state or retired members who have worked in the public service,  what about those who have not had any form of work with either the government or in the political field? If there is provision made for such people to mortgage their future and some who had since used politics as a money making venture will shelve the idea. However, the youth that are to be involved has to get quality education and training to understand that politics and political affairs is not a money making venture: but an avenue to serve the public for the public interest and that any legislation to be made will first address the needs and satisfaction of the public whom they are representing and not self or individual interest. They should be accountable for their actions when in service and to always return to their communities to seek for their opinions before taking a decision in whatever parliamentary level they are in either the House of Representative or in the Senate. They should be resemblance as serious agents for positive social change before they are voted in. Take for example the case of a particular state in Nigeria my country, Akwa Ibom state, at a time a governor who is a youth and a vibrant lawyer was elected, his activity centred on liberating his people from the servitude of poverty by making the state and its local government a place to be through the provision of infrastructural facilities and good road network. The result was that all its youths that have migrated to the urban cities in search of greener pastures started coming home to invest in one business venture or the other. As he was leaving office, he also made sure that his predecessor is also a youth like him who has been a technocrat in the banking sector. He took up the mantle of leadership based on his accountability proficiency and because he is not vast in politics, he has an adult senior politician as a backbone hence in my opinion they are carrying the flag and making sure it is flying based on the aspiration of the other governor.  If this becomes the routine in governance adults participation in politics will gradually erode and give room for youth participation.

    Question 4. What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins.) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?

    Youth participation in politics is increasingly been the focus of advocacy in issues pertaining politics, and some of the view is that the opportunity to express themselves should be the first avenue for increased youth participation in politics. The youth having access to social media platform is another means for expressing their political interest though sometimes this is abused but recently the outcome of responses from youths to some political decisions by the adults in leadership positions have revealed critical thinking and is very educative: hence some of the leaders have concentrated in using the social media platform to seek for positive action based plan to be adopted based on some of the responses received when issues are presented for discussion or otherwise for criticism. It is also noteworthy to say that some members of the political class no longer shield away from the activities of the social media as it was before rather it has become the norm for them to use it to canvass for opinions and positive feedback of political squabbles that has eluded their understanding, thereby giving the youths the preamble of the ideals of politics and what is to be expected of them assuming they are in a position to serve.

    Question 5. How can we support more young people who would be interested in channelling their activism through formal political institutions?

    Supporting the young in activism will be necessary at this time through financial empowerment. This is because some of the youth that will express interest for running political position have remained unemployed for some time and they have no form of basic income to support themselves more or less money for running a parliamentary position. However, if this seems to be dicey because it can be abused and money may not be accounted for, why not through selection, balloting system or direct appointment to choose a representative among the youths. For instance recently in my local government, precisely Afikpo south in Ebonyi state of Nigeria, the erstwhile House of Assembly candidate observed the interest of some of the women in the community to vie for political position went ahead to get registration forms for the women because they on their own cannot pay for the forms. He supported their candidature and surprisingly they won in their different wards as local council members. This strategy can also be used to encourage youths to come out  in their numbers to participate during parliamentary elections. Encouraging the youths by way of team participation in every social activity- organizing a non- funding meeting, adequate support financially, morally and absolute guidance can guarantee the youths confidence towards increased participation. Organizing a forum for discussion should not be used as a means to turn the youths or use them as thugs but a way to politically educate them to understand what politics is all about, teaching them how to serve having the public interest at heart and be responsible citizens for the sake of the growing ones.

    Question 6. What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?

    For instance in Africa, some group of adult politicians have adopted some youths to be their personal assistant, through that means the sincere ones coach them on how to participate in political affairs. Some of the adult politicians send them as representatives to community meetings where they are given opportunity to speak on behalf of their master.  Some organize youth forum and make the youths present to ask questions and from there some active youths who have shown activism in one way or the other are being adopted to join political party and they are recruited as party agents, representatives, campaign officers and so forth with the aim of grooming them to be the leaders of tomorrow. I am not against the method because no matter how educated one is, there is the need to learn from the masters and the only way is to first attach oneself to one good master or the other.

    Question 7. What can be done to support young MP’s in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware?

    Supporting young members to be part of the political process at this time is imperative and some of the strategies to achieve this is by way of election keeping reserved seats to be for the youths. Another way is through quota system which is similar to the first point: a certain quota percentage in parliamentary positions should be reserved for women and youth interested in politics. They should not be threatened by money spinning politicians but should be encouraged that even the poor can also be members of parliament. The other major way of support is by advocacy through an effective and efficient local government political involvement because grassroots politics is the major hurdle to surpass before the bigger parliamentary positions. With an effective local government structure, the youth gets involved in the activities of their local councils canvassing for votes and reaching the local populace in the language they will understand: the heart of the people will be won and if the youths involved are good community members and law abiding citizens they scale through during the electioneering campaign and subsequently become members of parliament. Therefore, there is the need for the local councils to advertise their activities and get their communities involved in every affair of the council for improved participation of all in that particular community. For instance during the last dispensation in my country Nigeria, a state member of parliament in my community organized youths of his age and below to be his supporters and he started coaching them on how to hold political positions by way of organizing political forum:  and he also used some of them as his thugs which I am very much against but I later discovered that the ones he used as thugs are the ones that have no education but even at that it is expected that he send them to acquire education and used them properly but not as thugs because as soon as one is used as thug it will feel good not knowing it is a wrong move in life. Hence there is the need to emphasise on the proper education of the youths as a means of forging ahead rather than becoming second class citizens because of lack of education.

    Question 8. How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combating discrimination and gender based violence?

    Yea, youths are better equipped with strategies to mitigate the problems of gender inequality and discrimination- the mere reason that social media have created an avenue for interaction among the youths of different background sexes and ages have continued to share their views with each other through that platform. You make friends male and female on Facebook, twitter, Instagram without knowing them in person, no prior knowledge of each other and maybe if you are smart you choose your friends based on your political, social and economic inclination. Ideas shared on this platform is very much valued giving everyone who has read it a kind of satisfaction creating a uniformity for a compromise with a particular solution to a problem. Female friends air their views without intimidation and sometimes some of the questions are particularly thrown to the audience of women participants and their views will be sought specifically by the male counterparts. For women interested in such publicity they get so excited and always feel that they are performing even when their views are meaningless the guys don’t throw them away but give them the impression that they are welcome.

    Question 9. How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence?

    To measure the participation of youth in political affairs is not a matter of personal idea, it needs to be researched before an aggregate of findings can be attached to the study. This is because in recent times calls on the involvement of youths in political affairs have been on the rise and that has necessitated efforts by some countries to review their constitution by way of reform to include quota system of youth and women inclusive participation in political activities. But my observation is that some of this strategies is not sustainable because for instance my MSc thesis was on women participation in politics in Nigeria between the periods of 1999-2007, there was improvement because our then head of state encouraged women to come out and join politics. He specifically appointed a good number as ministers and others were giving some other appointments. But suffice to say that when his tenure expired and some of these women also retired the subsequent leadership could not meet up with that tempo though they tried but as I am writing now the extent of women participating in the present government tends to be very low. Though some youths have been appointed by some of the governors but the positions of interest giving to them is not very encouraging, sometimes the people they pick as youths are actors, actresses and musicians which they give similar interest position. What about the teaming youths who are young technocrats interested in policy making and have the excellent knowledge to enact legislation towards the betterment of the society? These so called actors and actresses do not actually know the demands of the community but concentrate mostly on their career and areas of their career interest, they will hardly create a positive impact on the welfare of the community.

    Reference

    Hugh, Matthew. (2001). Citizenship, youth councils and young people’s participation. Journal of youth studies: 4 (3): 299-318.

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    By Nili Majumder, Online Advocacy Officer for the Global Fund for Women's Initiatives. 

    Youth representation in politics and in decision making body essential because they have the power to  combat any stagnation and have power to embrace new ideas, innovation. They can break status quo in politics, good way to create better responsible citizen, this will enhance better understanding of the needs of youth and development.

    In developing and poor countries, good number of youth are coming and taking membership in political parties but their representation in parliament and decision making is very low. So many causes are there:

    • Lack of qualitative education
    • Lack of job opportunity after completion of the education.
    • Corruption is the big challenge
    • Senior politicians are not ready to give space to young generation to become decision makers

    To ensure youth participation in politics as become parliamentarian/decision maker need:              

    1. Making law to ensure 75% must be youth parliamentarians; among total parliamentarians 50% must be reserved for female candidate (like Kenya)
    2. Capacity building on Good Governance practice.
    3. Leaders (PM, President etc.) in the parliament must be in power only for one term. 
    4. This will give opportunity to others to explore their own potentiality.
    5. 'Youth participation in politics' - should be included in the school/college syllabus. 

    Debate competition on current affairs, different social activities can be the platform to identify future potential candidate to bring in parliament to exercise their potentiality for pro-people development.

    Criteria of parliamentarians:

    1. They must have good educational background,

    2. Scientific outlook,

    3. At the time of selection of the candidate in political parties  intelligent level test must.