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Empowering Young MPs on International Youth Day

Youth parliament in the UK

© UK Parliament (CC BY-NC 2.0)

On 12 August, International Youth Day, the IPU celebrates young parliamentarians and youth participation in political life.

According to the most recent IPU report on youth participation, the global proportion of MPs under 30 increased from 1.9 per cent in 2016 to 2.2 per cent in 2018. Despite this small uptick, when compared with the half of the world’s population that is under 30, the data reveals a sizeable deficit in the political representation of youth worldwide. The report also shows that the proportion of MPs under 40 went up from 14.2 per cent to 15.5 per cent, and the proportion of MPs under 45 from 26 per cent to 28.1 per cent.

For the past decade, the IPU has been a pioneer in empowering young MPs and advocating measures to increase youth participation in politics. The IPU collects data, provides policy guidance, and organizes foras for young parliamentarians, such as the annual global conference of young MPs. The next edition of the conference, jointly organized by the IPU and the Paraguay Congress, will take place on 9-10 September in Asunción.

The IPU recommends a number of measures to help increase youth participation in parliaments. Electoral quotas established for young people in a growing number of countries worldwide are starting to have an effect. Aligning voter age with the age of eligibility for office also brings in a larger cohort of young candidates. Networks of young MPs, as well as caucuses addressing youth issues, have been established in around 17 per cent of parliaments covered in the recent IPU report. Parliamentary committees dealing with youth issues now exist in more than 40 per cent of countries; and 72 countries organize youth parliaments as a means of educating and engaging greater numbers of young people in politics.

The IPU has partnered with the World Future Council, an organization that discerns the Future Policy Award, a prize that recognizes visionary policies that benefit present and future generations. This year, the award will celebrate the best policies to empower young people. The winners of the 2019 Future Policy Award will be celebrated at a high-level award ceremony at the IPU’s 141st General Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia, in October.