Youth Must Mobilise Across Differences
Derwayne M. Wills
- 19 Posts
- Age 25
A dual edged blade guards against the involvement of youth at the high-level. On one side, there are politicians who continue to see youth as tokens in their election and re-election bids, and on the other side there are youth leaders who demand to be heard but sometimes exclude the voices of those who are not from their socioeconomic background.
I have been to consultations on youth policies, and different forums where young people speak about the life they want. My concern coming out of these events is that we continue to hear from the regular “choir” of the revolution. Those are the young professionals, the upper-middle class, the privileged youth, and the youth who live in above average circumstances.
It is important that we hear the voices of all the youth but there is a particular segment of youth that are still to be heard and represented at these high-level meetings. What about youth in slums? Youth in trouble with the law? Youth from sexual minorities? Youth who are at-risk and who might not wear a cap or gown?
Marginalised youth from these groups must have a say in the governance of their countries.
Even though youth make up the demographic majority in many countries, including my home country of Guyana, we are underrepresented and underappreciated in our political systems. There is nothing worse than policy makers who have forgotten what is to be youth, who are out-of-touch with the reality of the millennial youth, and who insist that their own experiences are enough to understand the rapidly changing 21st century.
When we refuse the voice of youth, policy failure is imminent.
We live in a world where young people are still struggling for their place at the decision-making table and all because the 'old-boys' in the game tend to benefit from that dynamic.
Young people are not tokens or pawns in someone’s game of chess. We must consult youth instead of dictating to them. Politicians will always play the game of politics, and in playing that game, they will make great promises to young people because they see voters where they should see a chance for securing a better tomorrow.
From climate change to peace and security, policy makers must ‘meaningfully’ consult youth on decisions that affect tomorrow’s world. Today, policy makers deny youth a voice in the name of expediency. This is more than just bad governance; it is a horrific injustice, which concretises youth suffering.
Youth deserve more than promises, which sometimes never make it off the drawing board. Policy makers must work to regain the trust of youth not only in the political and policy processes but also in the institutions that should protect them.
It is shameful when policy makers prey on the ambitions and passions of young people for political gain. If this sort of attitude festers then we are condemning our youth to remain in poverty, disillusionment and hopelessness.
How do we get politicians to listen?
Simple. There is strength in numbers. It is as easy as that. Young people must mobilise in their communities and demand to be heard by their leaders in their communities, countries, regions, and even at the international level.
There is one barrier to youth mobilisation. Exclusive groupings and segments sometimes exist among youth, which serve only to diffuse the strength of the mighty youth voice.
We must mobilise across differences!
Young people must see past the realities of religion, gender, sex, political affiliation, socioeconomic status, and level of education. We must look past these obstacles in strengthening our voice because as youth, the only reality is that together we bargain, and divided we beg.