‘New Gen’ aspiring for change
As a part of the 'new gen', we are all keen on making a difference. We are passionate about different aspects of life. We want our passion and our voice to make a difference. Dinuka Samaranayake is a young politician involved in the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a leftwing political party. He is passionate about his work with his political party and also enjoys his work in the finance sector.
As a participant of the Youth meet-up organized as part of UNDP Sri Lanka’s innovations journey, he finds the importance of social media as still being shunned in society. However, the presence of such events and the awareness raised should contribute to increased youth participation. Dinuka applauds the initiative of conducting this summit by UNDP. For him, the vital aspect of the event lies in the follow-up to the event. “The ideas and opinions that were exchanged should not go to waste. A plan, which allows for a change to undertake or for awareness on the forum to be raised in order for it's us to be able to raise our voices regarding the issues in society that came along would be valuable” he states. He shares that despite the success of the event, the time constraints that were placed on the youth participants restricted their ability to share their thoughts.
In a world that is thriving on the advancement of technology for the latest news updates, be it in politics, sports, entertainment or the weather, such forums should encourage for the participation of individuals of different specters of society and not limit it to a handful of individuals who always take part. He voices that only when we reach out to those individuals, are we able to raise awareness on the issues that are being discussed. Having attended several youth forums, he is of the view that it is essential for youth participation to expand to exchange ideas and perspectives for those who are unaware of such forums to voice their opinions and aid in making a difference.
Dinuka is in the view that in these discussions, the representation of senior government officials, decision makers and policy makers is a must. This is to ensure that they are better aware of existing issues in our society and see firsthand the maturity, knowledge and insights of the youth instead of ignoring them.
Youth should be given a voice in politics as he believes that youth participation would inculcate a strong dynamic, driven generation of individuals capable to raising their voices for issues they believe need to highlighted. To avoid today’s youth not having trust in political and civic participation, there is a role that everyone has to play, notes Dinuka. Personal agenda’s should be kept aside, politics should be seen as a way of giving back to society and opportunities should be equally open to all citizens despite their background. This he notes will ensure meaningful participation of youth.
Youth participation can give fresh impetus to solving social problems that we have faced over the years. The society should listen to the youth, give them a space for participation and dialogue, and avoid their frustrations overtaking their passion to contribute positively notes Dinuka. For him, the solution lies in awareness for the youth and for politicians. He believes that the youth needs to be given the opportunity to think and to aspire for change instead of being continually influenced by existing ideals. He believes that technology and social media has the potential and the power to influence the change in youth and thus accomplish the #2030 goal (in this case more youth actively engaging in civic and political dimensions). However, he urges his fellow youth to bear in mind that not every in our country not everyone has access to technology and social media. So a technological tool to connect youth ideas from different parts of our country may not be as effective. He does argue that it is indeed an effective tool and methods should be implemented on how to use it appropriately and positively for development purposes.
This young politician strongly believes that politics is a way of life and it is something that is always present in our lives. On that note, he is appreciative of the topic that was chosen as he is of the belief that sectors such as education, women empowerment, health, welfare are under the umbrella of politics. He questions as to why the youth are hesitant to participate in politics and believes that educating the youth on their rights and the need to participate is a vital aspect in ensuring that they are heard.
Author – Ayuni Munasinghe