Step out of your comfort zone: Get proactive
Active political and civic participation of the youth should be encouraged, says young politician Malsha Kumaratunga, Western Provincial Councilor representing the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance.
“Step out of your comfort zone. Get proactive” tells Malsha, an energetic and aspiring youth politician, a message that rings loud and clear, especially on the subject of the pivotal role of youth in civic and political participation.
As an invitee to the youth meet-up on the topic of “Civic and Political Youth Participation and the use of technology”, Malsha’s enthusiasm for the event was evident. According to her, the event was quite successful it encouraged discourse and a good opportunity for voices to be heard, especially in a context where civic and political participation of the youth in the country requires more attention.
“There should be more events like this, with more people getting involved, youth and youth politicians as well” says Malsha, further elaborating that the youth need to be more aware that politics is not restricted to the elite, nor for those who come from a political background.
She observes that, “Sri Lankan youth have so much potential and are quite driven when they set their mind on things that concern them”, when asked to comment about the enthusiastic responses and engagement on the subject at the event, held in late September. Her firm belief is that more youth should get actively involved and encourage the exchange of ideas on the matters of civic and political participation, as it would make the process of entering the political arena in order to make changes, much easier and more appealing.
Speaking on her personal experience as a young and aspiring politician, Malsha earnestly explained the importance of being aware and actively involved in political participation. Having been present at political events from a very young age, she stresses on how youth need to learn about the political context of the country, and make efforts to familiarize themselves with the political system and local politics.
She noted that, to tackle the lack of awareness among the youth, more events like this needs to happen, we need more meet-ups to discuss issues and solutions. “Especially in Sri Lanka, politics is not a job which you can carry out from behind a desk. If you want to be involved with politics, you have to be actively involved with the people and this means that you need to get out there and see political reality for yourself”, she remarked about how youth can engage in political participation.
Malsha also warns that the journey is never smooth, and that this should not stop anyone from venturing into politics. “As a young female politician, there are many obstacles that I face in my career. However, just because we face problems, it is not a cue for us to step back and feel helpless. You need to struggle, and that is when you will get somewhere in the end”, is her optimistic response.
Malsha Kumaratunga is a beacon of hope and optimism, especially on the subject of the potential of youth in bringing about change in the fields of civic and political participation in Sri Lanka.
“You have to be driven. You need to see that it is worth it to make the struggle, and be able to say that Yes! we are going to do this,” is her concluding message, and she hopes that there will be more events of this nature in the future and a wider participation of youth at such discussions.
Author – Nabeela Raji