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International Youth Day: Highlighting the importance and value of youth

Melvin Bouva

© Kwatu Media/A.Mbewe

Statement by Melvin Bouva, President of the IPU Forum of Young Parliamentarians and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Suriname on International Youth Day

International Youth Day is a recognition of one of humanity’s most valuable resources: the enthusiasm, ingenuity, fresh perspectives and vitality of our world’s young women and men.

Youth have much to offer to help address the global challenges we face today – from tackling climate change to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet our potential is largely untapped. This is not only a waste of all we could contribute, but also leads many to lose trust in our democratic institutions.

Every one of us needs to be aware that youth the world over have a critical role to play in the development of our nations. They face major challenges and at the same time they have to be socially and professionally equipped for their future and society. That is why it is so important for us to give special attention and protection to this very strategic resource. We must take the opportunity to stimulate young people to participate in good governance, which results in independent citizens who can contribute to the development of their society, nation and the world.

Youth are knocking on the door waiting to be let in to work with people of all ages, yet too often we are kept shut out. Only 2.2 per cent of the world’s parliamentarians are under the age of 30. Some 65 per cent of parliamentary chambers exclude young people who are eligible to vote from holding office, simply because of their age. This exclusion is not only an injustice in and of itself, but it also diminishes our collective ability to solve the world’s challenges at a time when all hands are needed on deck.

The IPU Forum of Young Parliamentarians is the collective voice of young MPs from around the world who are standing up for youth and for their political empowerment. Working both in our parliaments and in our communities, we repeat our mantra: No decisions about youth without youth. By coordinating our efforts with young MP champions from around the world – such as at the upcoming Sixth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians taking place in Paraguay on 9 and 10 September – and sharing strategies, tips and advice, we are working to keep the trust of young men and women and regain it where it has been lost. On International Youth Day, we reaffirm our commitment to raising the voice of youth so that it is louder and more powerful, not only today, but each and every day.

As President of the Forum of Young Parliamentarians I certainly intend to further encourage and support the IPU and its Member Parliaments and donors, as well as private sector institutions, to step up their backing for concrete initiatives that promote the involvement, participation and development of our youth.

Together we can and will work towards creating a child- and youth-friendly society in which children and young people can grow up in a healthy and safe way, develop their talents and actively contribute to their own development and that of their country and the world’s society as a whole.