Young people are a key part of any democracy. They engage in pro-democracy movements, mobilize to support or change policies, move online petitions and take part in boycotts. They are open to democracy.

The question remains: Is democracy open to young people?

Since 2010, we have been working to make democracy more inclusive of youth. We set up an international framework for youth participation in democracy and the Forum of Young Parliamentarians, a global platform that moves the youth agenda. We launched a youth participation programme to support parliaments and young MPs. Through these, we have succeeded in shifting the discourse on youth participation from “consultation” to “representation”, an important step in the wider engagement of young people in democracy.

To encourage youth participation, we support parliaments in facilitating the access of youth to political decision-making, empowering young MPs and young people in general, and including a youth perspective in legislation and policies. We help young MPs to come together at the global, regional and national levels. We monitor youth representation and issue policy and legislative guidance to boost it.

Who are today’s young parliamentarians? Parliamentarians under 30 make up less than 2 per cent of the world’s lawmakers; are more often male than female; preside over less than 25 per cent of youth-related committees in parliament; and benefit from proportional representation systems, quotas and a low eligibility age.

There are more young people today than ever before. More than half of the world population is under 30 years of age, and one-fifth of it is made up of youth aged 15-25.
IPU’s research on youth participation in parliaments has produced a wealth of data and has generated a series of recommendations to enhance youth participation.