Youth and civic priorities – This is what it takes to change the world

By: Sandra Luciano, IYF/ICT Specialist

Young people around the world represent 41% of the total population, and they are an effective and vital component of development issues.  We need to shed light on civic participation for young people because they are the ones who have the energy and the ability to find solutions to all the problems that our communities face

Civic participation is the basis of democracy and a clear expression of the principle of people's sovereignty. Civic engagement requires the presence of a group of citizens who have a sense of belonging and an interest in public affairs.

The importance of youth participation in public affairs continues to grow.  It is one of the most essential pillars of citizenship and participatory democracy in contemporary societies. Civic engagement of young people is the real gateway to mobilizing the energies of emerging generations, pumping new blood in the arteries of the political and social systems that would contribute to the continuous development movement.

Youth engagement is participatory democracy. Activating civic participation of youth will reduce the state of the political vacuum that young people live in. But first we must review how to unleash the energy of the youth. The youth must reformulate their priorities to engage with development interventions. This can be achieved with empowerment programs in line with the national agenda in order to effectively engage the youth in the civil society and higher decision-making bodies. 

Young people have a perceived sense that they’re unable to influence regulations on how their right to life, particularly economic life, is exercised. This is partly why there is a lack of civic participation among young people. Additionally, illiteracy and unemployment, play a fundamental role in the youth's reluctance to participate in political life.  When the basic needs of young people - such as finding suitable job opportunities, marriage, and starting an independent life - are not fulfilled, this negatively affects young people's voluntary work and political participation in the public domain.

To tackle these challenges, governments should fulfil the needs of youth in a way that reflects positively on their active participation in all issues of society, reducing indifference and engaging in national action. They should promote youth civic participation through open dialogue and creating opportunities for ideological discussions.

If youth are our only future, then the issue of youth participation should become our main priority more than ever. This could be achieved through scientific research, quality education, collaborative spaces for youth, or in policies directed at young people.

Sandra Luciano, IYF/ICT Specialist
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