Young people enrich institutions and politics at every level
“Young people are usually the first responders and have always been in the frontlines, not just during this pandemic but also in times of disasters and in building social cohesion,” said Lynrose Jane Genon, member of Young Women Leaders for Peace in the Philippines, summing up the discussion on youth engagement for global action in the latest International Youth Day podcast produced by UN DESA with and for young people.
“When young people are involved, the response to solving local and global challenges is more holistic, it is more effective, and it is more resisting,” she added. Lynrose believes that when youth co-creates change in the community, there is an increased sense of ownership in the solutions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, young people in the Philippines contributed by volunteering and delivering relief services, initiating online fundraising activities, and translating coronavirus prevention materials into local languages to make information more accessible to communities, especially those with no access the Internet.
Lynrose Jane Genon was one of six young activists and politicians from across the globe who shared their views on engaging young people in local, national, and global institutions and politics. Their conversation, moderated by Lucy Fagan, Global Focal Point for Health in the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, was captured in the International Youth Day podcast, available here.
The lively chat drew on the experiences of young people to learn valuable lessons on how youth representation and participation in politics can be enhanced, especially when it comes to responding to global challenges.
“For all young people who are partaking in the global processes, it is very important to ensure that your voice is actually being heard,” explained Eglė Janušonytė, elected Liaison Officer for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at the International Federation of Medical Students Association. “At this point, we cannot rely solely on the institutions for this, so it is important that we, young people ourselves, are aware of what is our role and whether our engagement is meaningful,” she added.
Despite the eagerness, creativity, passion, optimism, courage, and preparation of youth to contribute to the development of their societies, they face many barriers, such as the lack of trust and investment. Furthermore, youth are still conspicuously missing from parliamentary representation. One-third of countries do not even allow persons under 25 to run for parliament. This can leave youth disenchanted with the world of politics and distances them from the decision-making processes that have a direct effect on their lives and their communities.
Regardless of the challenges, young people are still finding ways to make their voices heard and engaging in many ways to create positive change and happier and healthier communities. The young people of today have the desire to improve and connect at all levels, from using social media platforms for advocacy and information sharing to creating a political party, like Nikoli Edwards—one of the podcast guests—who was elected Senator in Trinidad and Tobago at the age of 25. “At the end of the day, we all come into this planet and it belongs to none of us, and it belongs to all of us at the same time,” said Edwards, emphasizing the importance of youth working and thinking beyond borders.
Source: UN DESA