AS part of efforts to engage youth in national politics, 50 young women and men are currently gathered in Honiara for the 4th National Youth Parliament.
More than 50 percent of the global population are young people under 30, but according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, they make up less than two percent of the world’s members of Parliament.
Since its inception in 2009, the National Youth Parliament has involved youth from across the country biennially to learn about the three arms of the state and parliamentary democracy procedures.
Of 130 applicants, 25 women and 25 men were selected to participate in this year’s four-day programme. The youth participants represent all nine provinces of Solomon Islands in terms of places of origin.
In opening the National Youth Parliament today, the Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, Ajilon Jasper Nasiu, said the National Parliament embraces youth participation through its education programme.
“By providing a forum in which youths can express their ideas, concerns and expectations, it develops confidence, encourages teamwork and promotes a broader awareness among young people of community issues and processes of government through which those issues can be addressed,” Mr Nasiu said of the National Youth Parliament.
“For some of you, this will define your future and develop your interest to take part in political leadership.”
Nasiu added, “I take this occasion to acknowledge the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the UN Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) project with UN Women. The support demonstrates commitment towards youth inclusiveness in the region and Solomon Islands.”
In her remarks at the opening, UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager Azusa Kubota emphasised the importance of youth involvement in the nation’s politics and development.
“Please do not be spectators of what is happening around you in communities and in the world. Get involved. Take it personal. It is your future, so do what you can as a young leader and be the advocate in your community to make a positive change towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” Ms Kubota said.
“With youth making up about 70 percent of the country’s population, collectively, that is a big voice, and it must be heard.”
During the programme, sessions on the separation of powers and parliamentary democracy in the country will prepare participants for a debate in the Parliament Chamber on Thursday.
The 4th National Youth Parliament is facilitated by the National Parliament of Solomon Islands in collaboration with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs and made possible with support from the Australian High Commission, the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme through Oxfam and the UNPBF project.
–UNDP, UN WOMEN PRESS