Around the world there is a growing interest in youth and politics. Some political groups are changing to respond to the growing number of young people who want to affect the political system. Political ideologies appealing to youth that were once considered “fringe” beliefs are becoming mainstreamed, and more young people are associating themselves with non-popular political parties. More young people than ever before are actually becoming engaged in local community campaigns and other political activities. Youth can change the world through politics by becoming actively, meaningfully and substantially involved throughout political parties and beyond.
We have recently witnessed several young people ascend to presidency but also become influential in the running of the affairs of their countries.
But in what ways youth change the world through politics?
Youth Mainstreaming -- Advocating for youth mainstreaming can allow young people to change the world by creating new awareness, opportunities, policies, systems and cultures that foster youth engagement. In political parties, youth mainstreaming could allow for children and youth to affect democratic representation even in parties that would deny them the right to vote or otherwise become engaged.
Running for Office — Whatever age they are, young people can run for office anywhere in the world as an act of protest; to make a stand; or to draw attention. Building momentum for single candidates requires they remain committed to the causes that get them elected; pushing a political party or platform requires staunch champions for youth in politics.
Youth as Voters -- Fighting for youth suffrage and demanding youth rights is a platform for youth voters. Another avenue for youth as voters is a protest vote. Going to a voting place and casting a blank ballot can show youth dissatisfaction with the current political system. Youth as voters can also vote for a youth candidate who may be foreign to the political system, but young and capable of sharing youth voice.
What Are The Things Youth Need to Change the World through Politics
Education — In order to become engaged in politics in the most effective ways, young people can learn about political systems, political actions, political issues and other realities within and around the political system. They can also conduct action learning oriented activities that allow them to gain credit for their involvement.
Training -- Training young people to change the world through politics means teaching them the skills they need to become involved. These include communication, problem-solving, change management and conflict resolution skills. It also means participating in knowledge-sharing activities designed to build their capacity for powerful action.
Inspiration -- After 12, 14, 17 or 21 years of being told their voices don’t matter in politics, young people may need inspiration to become engaged. Never in history have children and youth been seen or treated as serious political actors; given the opportunity, they will be. Inspiration from stories, parables, biographies and other sources can help prepare and sustain youth in politics.
As a young person in Malawi, how are you willing to get involved in politics mainly as the 2019 general election is drawing closer?
Let me hear your views on youth and politics and what you are planning for the 2019 general elections.
Dennis Imaan is a Global Citizen born and currently staying in Malawi. He loves to share his experiences and lessons with others. Travel, Tourism, Innovations, Media and Youth development are close to his heart.