Just over ten years ago, IPU Member Parliaments adopted a landmark resolution on youth participation to encourage the rejuvenation of parliaments. Since then, parliaments from around the world have made some limited progress in its implementation. However, the level of youth representation in parliament, as measured regularly by the IPU, remains low. Half the world’s population is under 30 and yet only 2.6% of MPs globally represent this age group.
To address this gap, in Spring 2021, the IPU launched the I Say Yes to Youth in Parliament! campaign. It calls for action in and through parliaments to have more young women and men MPs. The cornerstones of the campaign are six pledges identified by young parliamentarians as the most impactful ways to generate transformative change:
- Promoting youth quotas
- Aligning the age of eligibility with that of voting
- Supporting youth channels in parliament
- Empowering young parliamentarians
- Mentoring young aspirants
- Advocating for youth participation
In just a few months, the campaign has spread all around the world. Hundreds of “changemakers” have already signed up, including over 315 MPs from 109 countries. Many Speakers of Parliament, Heads of government and United Nations agencies, Ambassadors, leaders from civil society organizations and the private sector, and youth activists have said YES.
The campaign has specifically received the support of:
- 24 Speakers of Parliament, including from: Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Belgium, Burundi, Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Madagascar, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Zambia. Several Deputy Speakers have also signed up.
- Other political leaders, such as: Dr. Daniel Risch, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan, Ms. Beatriz Argimón, Vice-President of Uruguay, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, Mr. Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly and Foreign Minister of Maldives, and Mr. Stephen Twigg, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
The campaign has been promoted in 15 national parliaments, namely: Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Ecuador, Egypt, India, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Montenegro, Pakistan, Serbia, Thailand, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
Launch events included: conferences, seminars and workshops, plenary sessions with young people, video messages from the Speakers, statements by young MPs, press releases, social media campaigns, promotional videos, and actions by women parliamentary networks.