Youth: Larger share of population, what share in making decisions? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, September 23, 2020

Roundtable

Youth: Larger share of population, what share in making decisions?

The Daily Star in association with ActionAid Bangladesh organised an online discussion titled “Youth: Larger share of population, what share in making decisions?” on August 27, 2020. Here we publish a summary of the discussion.

Nazmul Ahsan, Manager-Young People, ActionAid Bangladesh

The existing policy framework and practices do not allow young people, particularly young women from excluded and marginalised communities, to engage and contribute meaningfully.  The National Youth Council should be constituted soon to implement the National Youth Policy 2017 and to ensure participation of young people from diverse backgrounds.

Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh

Issues such as the impacts of climate change on communities, livelihoods and employment opportunities in the informal sector, RMG sector, etc., arise while working with the youth. We must decide which issues deserve to be addressed first. This will increase our credibility among the youth and decision-makers.

In the current context, young people, particularly young women should be engaged in various formal and informal leadership positions to incorporate their opinions in the planning and overall development processes.

Civic education needs to be reintroduced within the schooling system so the youths are familiar with democratic practices. Political parties should carry out political orientation induction programmes.

Shuvashish Roy, Digital Marketing Manager, The Daily Star

Many youths of Bangladesh possess various traits of leadership. So, it is very important to evaluate if youths are being given sufficient opportunities to become leaders. Followership is also another element which needs to be discussed when speaking of leadership. It is very important that structured 'paths' are made for followers so that they can support their leaders. It might be easier to think of leaders and followers being part of the same ecosystem and thus, plenty of work remains in this area.

Korban Ali, Deputy Manager-Youth Representation, ActionAid Bangladesh

Though the state recognises the political engagement of the youth in the national youth policy, the Representation of the People Order and the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act 2009 needs to be reformed to reserve a minimum representation of young people in the parliament and Union Parishad. The Queen's Young Leaders programme of the UK is an example of recognising contributions of the youth, which Bangladesh can follow. A state-funded national youth parliament could also help with youth participation. Political internships, awarded through competitive processes, can also be given out.

Jesmin Tarif Jui, Youth Member, Driro Prottoy Youth Organization

We have secured some of our position in the standing committee of the local Union Parishad through our advocacy initiatives. But our opinions are always disregarded by the other members of the standing committee of the Union Parishad. Even if our opinions are heard, they are not implemented.

Irfan Ahmed, Group Leader, Nari Moitree Youth Group

Volunteerism should be taken seriously and not be seen as inferior to other paid jobs. Besides, it is apparent that youths of Bangladesh are not considered to be worthy of being part of decision-making processes. Nepotism is another concern. In the political arena, leaders often favour certain members, and do not take everyone's opinions into account.

Md Shahin Ali, President, Unique Youth Organization

It is evident that youth participation is low at many institutions. Many committees exist at the Union level, most of which are led by non-youths and elderly people. However, it is not true that no youths have been joining such committees. When youths prove themselves to be worthy of such committees, they are regarded as integral parts.  

Shammy Wadud, President of United Nations Youth & Students Association Bangladesh (UNYSAB)

Our society does not accept women as leaders and decision-makers; rather, it destroys the morale and motivation of women. Women are always questioned about their life decisions and education. Not many females in our country can actually gather the required mental strength to fight off such social stigmas. We must teach the women of our country to dream big and have a vision for themselves and provide them with the right support. 

Sabitri Hembrom, Vice President, Adibashi Chhatra Parishad

In the context of adibashi people, women seldom participate in political matters. The family members do not usually support female members of their families to join political organisations. Besides, women from rural areas do not usually get the opportunity to study at universities and represent themselves in the decision-making platforms due to lack of family support. We need to make changes in these arenas.

Abdul Aziz Ripon, Youth Member, Arpon Youth Organization

We have been included in the youth committees and different platforms, but we are not included in the decision-making process; we are usually notified of decisions which have already been approved. Even when opportunities are given, the chance to do actual groundwork is limited.

Minhaz Ahmed Prince, Jatiyatabadi Chatra Dal (JCD), University of Dhaka

Youths should be able to become a part of all kinds of organisations in Bangladesh and not just at decision-making levels and political parties. Our concern is that Bangladesh political culture permits politicians to retain power for multiple terms, which shrinks the opportunities for young people towards meaningful participation in leadership and decision-making process. Therefore, we need systematic changes so that youths can take up more leadership positions.

Susmita Sultana, Youth Member, Alor Sandhane Juba Dal

A misconception which is rampant in Bangladesh is that males should have the upper hand in all matters. We tend to believe that females are not capable of making decisions at personal and societal levels. Such perceptions exist at core institutional levels and we must change that.

Alamgir Kabir, National Activista Adviser-Ghashful Child Forum, Ambassador of Dhaka Girls Empowerment Project-Youth for Change BD, National Member of Youth Advisory Panel & CMT Member Youth Representative-Plan International Bangladesh

Persons with disabilities lack accessibility and therefore they require sustainable solutions. If these people continue to be ignored, they will be further discouraged. Those of us who are getting the opportunity to represent our communities must act responsibly to encourage change.

Tanbir Hasan Shaikat, Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) and DUCSU member, University of Dhaka

It is essential that we leave nobody behind. Youths who are considered "muted", that is, who reside in isolated areas and do not have the scope to share their opinions as well as be skillful, must be given every opportunity and platforms to harness their potential.

Tania Sultana Nila, Treasurer, Udayan Jubo Sangstha

If given the right opportunities, youths like us can participate more in decision-making and extra-curricular activities. Such participation helps us become more confident to voice our opinions and take better decisions. 

Rumeen Farhana, MP, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Women Seat-50

One-third of our population consists of youths aged 15 to 34. However, since 50 percent of the population comprises of women, society cannot fully realise the opportunities of the demographic dividend while demeaning or excluding women. If women believe in themselves and utilise their courage, then families and the society will believe them.

Chandara Tripura, Youth representative, Rangamati

There have been positive changes in indigenous representation, but there are still some gaps. The indigenous society is struggling to produce transformative leadership mainly due to the knowledge gap between the elders and the new young leaders. More cooperation is required between the policymakers and the indigenous groups to end the gap.

Zonayed Abdur Rahim Saki, Chief Coordinator, Ganosamhati Andolon

The main problem in Bangladesh is the lack of democratic practices. We need to question whether our youth have proper access to climb the political ladder as any democratic country should.

In our political structure, many youths are in charge but do not have the authority to make the final decisions. At every level, youth participation is treated as a reserved quota. If there is no apolitical power resisting the spark of the youths, then their participation in the political parties will be more widely accepted.

Shekh Sharif Hasan, Volunteer, Alor Michil Samaj Unnayan Jubo Sangho

Every year, a budget can be allocated for youth leadership under which there will be opportunities for the youth to work at governmental levels and also beyond politics. Moreover, our education system should incorporate teachings about teamwork.

Shorna Akter, President, Ushar Alo Jubo Songho

In some cases, the youth can participate in decision-making but are unable to implement the decisions. The youth are also held behind in terms of communication because of the lack of technological knowledge. So, more training opportunities for the youth are required.

Mohammad Hefajur, Founder, Progressive Youth Club

We work with youth dropouts and emphasise on building their leadership abilities. The youths do not have the opportunity to work at the local and city corporation level. The youths must work as a team and claim the rights and opportunities they are deprived of.

SM Imran, President, Rising Youth Group

The people who are in charge of the decision-making process find youth participation unnecessary as they believe the youths have nothing new to contribute due to lack of their experiences. Many youths also lack the urge to gain knowledge on and involve themselves in the decision-making processes.

Mst. Setu Akter, Youth Member, Agragami Jubo Sangstha

The decisions of the youth need to be accepted for the sake of encouraging them to continue participating in the decision-making process. The youth also need to treat the points of the decision-makers with more respect.

Khadizatul Anwar, MP, Awami League, Women Seat-6

It is very important to provide youth with the opportunities to share their opinions as they are going to shape the future of our country.

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