Following the lively online discussion that brought together not only young people, to discuss ‘why there is a low level of youth participation and how it can be improved’, but also linked up the YPLF – Young Political Leaders Forum to the discussion.
Technology is dominating today's society. Most of us young adults now have instant access to Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter through our smartphones or the latest tech-gadget. Technology has given rise to a new era in communication. But let's not forget the power of a youth meet-up!
A key point that stemmed from the online discussion was the need for a youth meet-up to take this discussion forward. Linking up with the Social Good Summit themed ‘Connecting for Good’, UNDP Sri Lanka partnering with the Global Shapers Colombo Hub organized a youth meet-up titled “Civic and political youth participation and the use of technology with a view of #2030NOW”.
September 22nd saw a flourish of activity at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute for International Relations Studies as many representatives from institutions and organizations including young representatives from political parties (representing the three major political parties) took to voicing their opinions on what is now considered an important issue.
When we are passionate about an issue or when something happens in our daily lives, we take to updating our social media sites, be it a Facebook status, pictures of Instagram or a few hastags on Twitter, we feel compelled to upload something in the hopes of generating a response from our peers. Sometimes this generates heated discussions where one person bluntly argues one side while another person argues for the opposite.
Using the digital tools of today, to emphasize the importance of social media, the youth participants took to updating their friends and colleagues on Twitter using #SGS2014 #YouthnDev #2030NOW hashtags to create a trend and raise awareness on the issue. Twitter buzzed with questions as to why youth participation was very low in politics and the ways in which it can be improved. A recurrent question on their minds was why the same few people are always seen in youth forums and discussions, bringing forth the idea that such events should aim to impact on a larger audience by including in a wider spectra of society.
The group further discussed the taboo of politics and questioned why the youth are unable to discuss politics. Youth representatives of political parties too joined the event to contribute their perspective and engage with the youth in what they believed was a vital issue.
In the dynamic discussions, the participants were passionate on voicing their own opinions on issues that came up. Unfortunately, not all participants were able to voice their opinions due to time constraints placed. The event led to the participants agreeing that once you give the opportunity for talented youth to expand their potential, development can be witnessed despite political influences.
Conclusion was that this discussion is not over. The youth wanted more, to meet again, to discuss in detail, find solutions and be part of the positive change. We understand the need to build a permanent forum, nonpartisan one, which will encourage and involve young people.
Our pledge is to reach out to the youth, to work with all partners and young political representatives (from all parties) to make youth equal partners in development!
Author – Ayuni Munasinghe