Speakers call to increase youth participation in political decision making

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Lack of encouragement from families, society, behind poor youth participation in politics

Speakers at a roundtable discussion on Saturday emphasized increasing youth participation in political decision making to help build a sustainable country.

They said  youth participation has been limited in local government to national level politics, mainly because of poverty, illiteracy, and gender discrimination, among other factors.

Despite the issues, youth participation in international politics and global development has been prioritized but their role in decision making is very minimal, they added, emphasizing the need for reform to help youths take a leading role in Bangladeshi politics.

They made these pressing observations at a roundtable, titled “Representation of Young People in the Local Government (Union Parishad), National Parliament and Political Parties in Bangladesh: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward,” organized jointly by ActionAid Bangladesh and Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation in Dhaka.

The organizers shared the findings of a study prepared by Global Research and Marketing (GRM) at the event.

Sharing the findings, Associate Professor of Jahangirnagar University Tamalika Sultana noted that the number of parliamentarians below 30 years of age is only 0.29% in Bangladesh, which is also the lowest in South Asian countries.

Although the suggestions of youths are being heard, major decisions are largely taken by senior leaders in politics, identified the survey conducted in six districts — Dhaka, Chittagong, Nilphamari, Kushtia, Satkhira and Bagerhat — of 204 youths, between 18-35 years of age.

“The participation of female youths in politics is even lower compared to men in different political committees mainly because of gender discrimination and religious views,” said Tamalika.

“Even though the national Youth Policy-2017 said youths need to be involved in the decision making process at local, national, and international levels, the policy did not mention any way to include their representation,” she added.

“Despite the fact that the Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Act 2009 stipulated that parties are required to fix the goal of reserving at least 33% of all committee positions for women, including the central committee, and successively achieving this goal by the year 2020, the enactment does not mention any youth representation in political parties,” she said.

She said young men and women in Bangladesh are unhappy about the political culture of corruption, injustice, killing, violence, nepotism and so on. Also, their families and society do not permit the young to participate in politics.

The keynote recommended that all political parties change their constitution and election manifesto, and include the proportional representation of young men and women in their parties and committees.

Seniors will have to keep the young with them and give them more chances to participate in the decision making process and evaluate their decisions, it added.

It also demanded that each party allocate necessary budgets for the young which will be spent in training young leaders because the young must know the party ideology, practice of democracy, leadership, and new ideas in world politics.

Addressing the event, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Dr Md Enamur Rahman, suggested that building capable politicians is very important to help democratic countries move forward.

“Our youth always work in moments of crisis and in the development of the country. The country can ensure sustainable development if we can include young people in politics and in leadership roles,” he added.

ActionAid Bangladesh Director Asgar Ali Sabri stressed the need to reform current systems to encourage youth to join politics.

but their role in decision making is very minimal,” they added, emphasizing the need for reform to help youths take a leading role in Bangladeshi politics.

They made these pressing observations at a roundtable, “Representation of Young People in the Local Government (Union Parishad), National Parliament and Political Parties in Bangladesh: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward,” organized jointly by ActionAid Bangladesh and Dhrubotara Youth Development Foundation in Dhaka.

The organizers shared the findings of a study prepared by Global Research and Marketing (GRM) at the event.

Sharing the findings, Associate Professor of Jahangirnagar University Tamalika Sultana noted that the number of parliamentarians below 30 years of age is only 0.29% in Bangladesh, which is also the lowest in South Asian countries.

Although the suggestions of youths are being heard, major decisions are largely taken by senior leaders in politics, identified the survey conducted in six districts — Dhaka, Chittagong, Nilphamari, Kushtia, Satkhira and Bagerhat — of 204 youths, between 18-35 years of age.

“The participation of female youths in politics is even lower compared to men in different political committees mainly because of gender discrimination and religious views,” said Tamalika.

“Even though the national Youth Policy-2017 said youths need to be involved in the decision making process at local, national, and international levels, the policy did not mention any way to include their representation,” she added.

“Despite the fact that the Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Act 2009 stipulated that parties are required to fix the goal of reserving at least 33% of all committee positions for women, including the central committee, and successively achieving this goal by the year 2020, the enactment does not mention any youth representation in political parties,” she said.

She said young men and women in Bangladesh are unhappy about the political culture of corruption, injustice, killing, violence, nepotism and so on. Also, their families and society do not permit the young to participate in politics.

The keynote recommended that all political parties change their constitution and election manifesto, and include the proportional representation of young men and women in their parties and committees.

Seniors will have to keep the young with them and give them more chances to participate in the decision making process and evaluate their decisions, it added.

It also demanded that each party allocate necessary budgets for the young which will be spent in training young leaders because the young must know the party ideology, practice of democracy, leadership, and new ideas in world politics.

Addressing the event, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Dr Md Enamur Rahman, suggested that building capable politicians is very important to help democratic countries move forward.

“Our youth always work in moments of crisis and in the development of the country. The country can ensure sustainable development if we can include young people in politics and in leadership roles,” he added.

ActionAid Bangladesh Director Asgar Ali Sabri stressed the need to reform current systems to encourage youth to join politics.