Half of young people feel excluded from political decision-making: report


ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Participation in decision-making, quality education, internet access and the climate crisis are among the main concerns for children and young people in Africa and Europe, according to U-Report polling data released by the African Union (AU), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union (EU).

The report, which was conducted through polls that were conducted between July and September 2020 through U-Report, a global digital youth engagement platform developed by UNICEF and partners, was published on late Friday.

Almost half of all young people polled feel excluded from political decision-making processes that affect their lives, the poll findings show. While an overwhelming majority of the polled young people (91 percent) would like to have more say in the political decisions that shape their lives, 48 percent feel completely left out, according to the report.

Findings of the report indicated that the main obstacle they cite (59 percent) is lack of access to policymakers.

Most respondents were from Africa, mainly because there are fewer national U-report platforms and fewer U-reporters in Europe. On average, 68 percent of the responses were from boys and young men and 32 percent from girls and women, it was noted.

The findings are included in the report "Your Voice Your Future," a joint effort between the AU, EU and UNICEF that brings together results and recommendations from four U-Report polls across Africa and Europe.

The four reports altogether comprised 450,000 young people between 14 and 35 years old voiced their views on key topics that affect their future and are relevant to the partnership between Africa and Europe, it was noted.

"In the midst of all the challenges being faced in the advent of the 'new normal', few things have remained constant - the unwavering resilience, energy and ingenuity of young people across the world. Now more than ever, it is clear that young people are integral to the recovery, progress and sustainability of this world," an AU statement issued after the report launching quoted Sarah Anyang Agbor, AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Sciences and Technology.

Young people may feel let down by traditional politics, but they are finding alternative ways to engage with and mobilize their peers, the report indicated.

A large majority (88 percent) say they feel responsible for tackling climate change, while 71 percent actually want to play a role in the green transition. Some 65 percent of respondents say they are active within a youth network or organization in their community, it was noted.

"Young people have a rightful seat at the decision-making table. They are the agents of change who with us build today a better tomorrow. We need to hear from them, but that is not all we must do. We must engage and empower youth to be involved in decisions affecting their lives," said Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.

"When children and young people speak, the world should listen," said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director.

Some 59 percent of the young people polled identified a lack of access to policymakers as the biggest barrier to their involvement in decision making, with some 17 percent citing a lack of support for those in power.

The report also indicated that some 75 percent of young people face barriers to accessing the internet. The main limiting factors are the high cost of data (38 percent), inability to afford internet devices (29 percent), and the lack of electricity (40 percent).

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