Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Don't leave youth on sidelines

Published:Monday | August 15, 2016 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

August 12, 2016 marked the United Nations' celebration of International Youth Day.

Young people form the largest percentage of the global population. For the longest time, the policymaking and critical resource allocation roles have been left to individuals who are past the youth stage. It is true that their experience is immense, but it is also true that the realities of their time do not necessarily speak to today's generation.

Getting closer to the United Nations' theme, the duty of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable production and consumption calls for more responsible ways of doing things. It is true that youth are aware of the dangers ahead of them, especially from the destructive activities conducted under the watch of the current crop of decision-makers (like the unfortunate repercussions of Brexit with which the youth of the United Kingdom now face), but it is also true that they do not have a meaningful way of engagement in the decision- making processes, as well as mechanisms of effecting sustainable change.

For the few times youth have been given an opportunity to make inputs in policies locally and globally, they rarely get to the closed space where the real deal is sealed. Side events and youth forums are gaining popularity, but is that the only thing that youth want? The real deal rests on the creation of an enabling space and resource allocation to make real change happen.

The question of keeping a state and its leaders accountable to its commitments at global, national and local levels can be answered if the youth of today agree to push their way into closed spaces. This has popularly been termed as active youth citizenship.

Let the youth now find comfort in forming their own spaces without occupying the critical spaces dominated by 98 per cent of individuals aged above 30 years.

The fact that success is not preordained should serve as a motivating factor to fight for the rightful space not only for inclusion, but for meaningful engagement and an opportunity to effect the real change.

I salute all young people fighting to make a difference - locally, regionally and globally - and you should, too.

As I have constantly been saying, our time is now, not the future.

JEZEEL MARTIN

Law Student

jezeelmartin@gmail.com