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Young parliamentarians want to boost youth participation in Africa

A Senegalese woman waits to cast her ballot at a voting station during presidential elections in the capital Dakar, February 25 2007

It is vital to involve young people in decision-making at all levels. © Reuters/Finbarr O’Reilly

In Africa, young people under 30 make up approximately 70 per cent of the population, yet IPU research shows that less than 1.5 per cent of them are MPs. Although this is often due to perceptions such as a lack of experience, a more concrete barrier in many African countries is the age limit for holding elected office.

For democracy to be effective, decision-making must be inclusive. Involving young people gives them a sense of ownership of public affairs and strengthens public policy. To galvanize action for youth political participation, the IPU and the Parliament of Nigeria convened the Regional Conference of Young Parliamentarians of Africa, the first of its kind, on 27 and 28 September in Abuja, Nigeria.

Young MPs at the conference will come together to find solutions to the obstacles preventing youth participation in Africa. Participants will also look at the link between political participation and the prevention of violent extremism.

The conference aims to empower young Africans through legislative reforms and to enhance partnerships between MPs and young people. This is particularly important as young people do engage with politics but often not through formal channels, which means that there is a lack of engagement in the processes and institutions responsible for their own development. However, young people are not only tomorrow’s leaders, they are leaders and stakeholders of today and it is vital to involve them in decision-making at all levels now.

Registration is still open! If you would like to participate, please send us your information as soon as possible, at the latest by Friday this week (22 September). For more details and to download the registration form, go to