Some 120 MPs are meeting in Geneva on 10-11 October for the first ever IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians aimed at finding ways and means to ensure youth participation in politics. The Conference, “Taking Democracy to Task”, will involve young members of parliament (below 45 years old), a group of senior MPs, youth leaders from other walks of life and international experts. An IPU analysis on youth participation in parliament to be launched on the first day of the Conference will take stock of the current trends in youth political participation and representation.
Various panel discussions during the two-day event will address key questions, including barriers to young people entering politics, the double discrimination faced by women based on age and sex and the existence of youth movements and platforms as a stepping stone to parliament. Questions such as why are so few young people members of parliament today?; is it true that young people are apathetic, apolitical and angry citizens?; how to open up politics and parliament to young people?; and how to maintain youth participation in the international agenda? will be tackled.
During the past few years, the world has witnessed the wide-scale mobilization of young people on democracy and social and economic issues in many countries. Demonstrations, boycotts and activism on the streets of cities such as Cairo, Tunis, Athens, Madrid, Bangkok, New York, Montreal and Rio de Janeiro have shown the will and desire of young people to have a say in politics. However, reality is that political and electoral disenchantment among youth is a growing and worrying fact in all regions. Although people between the ages of 15 and 25 currently represent one fifth of the world population, today fewer than two per cent of MPs around the world are in their 20s and only 12 per cent are in their 30s.
Funded by Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), the Conference will take place on the eve of IPU´s 131st Assembly and will produce an outcome document that will provide guidelines for decision-making to enhance youth participation in parliament. IPU´s commitment to supporting youth participation in politics dates back to 2010 with the adoption of the resolution on “Youth Participation in the democratic process” at the 122nd Assembly in Bangkok. One year later, IPU established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, a formal and permanent body dedicated to enhancing the quantitative and qualitative participation of young people in parliaments and in IPU.
Join the discussions during the Conference and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians after using Twitter #YoungMPs