The round table discussions on “Inclusive Youth Participation at All Levels” commenced at the Bandaranaike International Memorial Conference Hall (BMICH) Wednesday morning with the participation of the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Maya Todorova, Former Youth Delegate of Indonesia Mr. Angga Dwi Martha and the United Nations Development Program Representative Ms. Tasneem Mirza.
Commencing the discussion, the Bulgarian Deputy Minister said that youth participation at all levels is a crucial factor in decision-making around the world. The three key areas the Minister highlighted were the possibility of participation, democracy and the representation of youth. Minister Todorova concluded her
speech by saying, “Youth is already a fact, it is already available online. We can see the development. We need to reach out for participation.”
Ms. Mirza highlighted that 85 percent of the youth are from developing countries and face a lot of challenges. Her speech included three stages of inclusiveness:
Inclusiveness in Economic Participation: When considering the inclusiveness in economic participation, she highlighted youth unemployment by explaining that youth unemployment in many countries is two to three times higher than the national averages. Furthermore, youth underemployment is also a problem where education and the skills of the youth do not match the job market.
Inclusiveness in Civic and Political Participation: Ms. Mirza stated that the youth have a significant role in civic and political participation. She provided examples to support her point by stating that youth can be proactively involved in formal processes such as elections, constitution-making and parliamentary
Outreach for Marginalized Youth: The third point Mr. Mirza raised is the fact that several groups of youth need special support due to their circumstances and, therefore, outreach efforts should include youth from ethnic and minority groups, refugees, the HIV-affected population and people with disabilities.
The former youth delegate of Indonesia Mr. Angga Dwi Martha said that the “fulfillment of basic human rights is important, including young people’s active leadership and meaningful participation.”
He exmplained his view by stating that there are three layers of youth. They are the youth that are unaware, the youth that are aware but have no capacity and no channels to voice their concerns, and the youth that are aware about the issues as well as having ways to voice those concerns. He said, yet in order to participate, youth have to be considered as a partner in development and not as a subject.