Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

New UN Campaign Motivates Youth to Participate in Decision Making

Be Seen, Be Heard seeks to create long-term structural changes that foster the inclusion of young voices to halls of power
May 12, 2022

The United Nations (UN) has launched a campaign in collaboration with the Youth Envoy to support young people’s political participation and amplify their voices in public life.

The Be Seen, Be Heard campaign, which partners with The Body Shop International, seeks to build long-term structural changes to include youth in decision-making. The campaign seeks to raise the voice of millions of young people in over 75 countries across six continents.

“With the climate crisis, global conflict and generational inequalities running rampant, the inputs, perspectives and representation of youth are needed more than ever,” said the press release.

A report was also released on May 11 to understand preconceptions and structural barriers preventing young people from participating in public life. The Be Seen Be Heard: Understanding young people’s political participation report also recommends how to address these challenges.

Underlining a chronic lack of faith in political systems, the report says there is a clear appetite for more youth representation from all age groups in these systems.

The report found that 82 per cent of people globally agree the political system needs drastic reform to be ready for the future. About 70 per cent believe that youth should have more input. Three quarters of those under age 30 believe that politicians and business leaders have ‘messed things up’ for people and the planet and are ready for change. Two in three people also disagree with the age balance in politics and eight in 10 support that the ideal first-time voting age should be 16 to 18.

Recent data shows that although almost half the world’s population is under 30, they make up only 2.62 per cent of global parliamentarians and that the average age of a world leader is 62.

UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake emphasised the importance of including youth in the decision-making to fight the mistrust towards political institutions and alienation from elected leaders.

“As young people have made abundantly clear through their activism on the streets, in civil society and on social media, they care deeply about the transformational change needed to create more equal, just and sustainable societies,” she added.

According to the Youth Envoy, young people’s participation in public decision-making could be improved long-term by lowering voting ages; increasing formal youth representation through youth councils, parliaments, or committees; removing barriers for young people to participate in public decision-making; simplifying first-time voter registration; and improving young people’s leadership skills.