Politics is often perceived as being dominated by older and more experienced members of society but it is important for us all to realize that in each and every industry of ours, the youth is always the future – and the faster we bring up and grow the youth, the faster we can attain progress. When it comes to the political world however, democratic processes often bottleneck parliamentary participants to those who have the most seniority. Seniority can be beneficial for democratic resolution, but lacking youthful creativity and passion, governments lag behind in the progress that other organizations can attain.
In the western world, as teenagers and young adults become more independent with each generation, their involvement in political proceedings and awareness has risen and continues to do so. From both sides of the political spectrum, young people are staunchly taking sides to better the future of their societies globally. From youth wings of established political parties and social movements, to asserting themselves and their perspectives in the world of media and journalism, young people are more involved in the real world than ever before.
For generations, youth could see what adults could not; they understood the most pressing issues, independent of whatever economic or political importance they had, but for the purpose of righting society’s wrongs. One of these very issues which has plagued social infrastructure for thousands of years has been the consistent subordination of women. For years, women had been barred from the professional setting and from having any real input and influence in societal affairs. They were refused education and restricted to home life, anchoring their potential as human beings. Even today, this problem is still unfortunately ever present in the developing world, but instances of defiance have sprung women’s rights into the forefront of social advocacy.
In 2012, Malala Yousafzai, a social activist for girls’ education in Pakistan was shot in the head on her school bus by a member of the Taliban, a ruthless fundamentalist terrorist organization operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Malala survived the injuries and with international support flooding in, she was able to relocate with her family to the United Kingdom. Through her growing following internationally, she established the ‘Malala Fund’ to continue her fight for girls’ education everywhere. Today, with her fund Malala has supported and continues to support hundreds of thousands of schools along with millions of young girls seeking education in every corner of the world. She has been rewarded with a slew of awards and recognitions including the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and a speech at the United Nations, and to this day still promotes and engages global citizens in her cause.
Not all youth leaders are on such a large scale as Malala though, initiatives and activism start small and gradually grow into influential movements. American politics has always been the base standard of political hierarchy in the world – the functioning democracy and diversity of opinion is heralded as the shining light of progress around the world. Charlie Kirk is an American conservative leader and activist broadening the scope of American conservatism as he engages youth through applicable calls to action. Kirk founded a conservative organization by the name of Turning Point USA in 2012, in order to expand support for capitalist ideals like fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government regulation. The organization is also heavily involved in student government on campuses nationwide, trying to bring up and elevate conservative youth through the ranks to eventually take roles at the highest levels.
Canadian conservatives have also been very successful in rallying support and growth through the youth ranks, as several prominent politicians have come out of Ontario’s Youth Progressive Conservatives. The OYPC is the recent product of a merger between the party’s campus association and youth association which now allows for more efficient and productive fundraising, volunteer work, lobbying, and collective events. This youth wing of the PC party has for years specialized in engaging youth in conservative politics even as early as age 14. With youth riding associations and campus conservative clubs, the association offers plenty of accommodation for young conservatives to learn and grow as well as support the overarching PC Party of Ontario. Over the years, the conservative youth wings have put out several established politicians on the provincial and federal level, including former Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Treasury Board, John Baird, former Minister and President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement, current Ontario Education Minister, Stephen Lecce, current Ontario Finance Minister, Rod Phillips, as well as Brampton and Toronto Mayors, Patrick Brown and John Tory. Needless to say, Ontario’s youth conservative wings have a lot to offer in terms of building experience and networks while concurrently being involved in the political process from a young age.
Aside from partisan politics, our world right now is in dire need of direction when it comes to sustainable action and long-term insurance. The climate change and global warming crisis has been the subject of much controversy in the last decade or so, but young people are rising up and calling a halt to political mischief regarding the future of humanity. Greta Thunberg is one such example who has tried to put aside political partisanship in favour of a collective interest.
Greta Thunberg grew up in Sweden, which is known for it’s progressive and effective social policies, but she still had concerns about the broader world as a whole. In grade school, Greta was exposed to the reality of global warming and climate change, which really resonated with her on a personal level. To take initiative on the issue, she established a “School Strike for Climate”, where she and her friends would strike from school on Fridays to go protest with signs in front of the Swedish parliament. Since those first few protests on the steps of Swedish parliament, Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of other young people to participate in similar events across the world spanning from Canada and the US to even China. In the past few years, she has been able to speak to several United Nations councils on different occasions to address the ongoing climate crisis throughout the world, and she has also been rewarded with a slew of recognition through other awards and media praise.
Young people can change this world, and they continue to do so each and every day. From Malala to Charlie Kirk, the youth bring with them an uprising – masses of people ready to fight for real change in the face of suppression and rigid quid pro quo establishments.