Politics and world leadership can be confusing and frustrating for many – perhaps even more so for teenagers and young adults, who are provided only minimal political education without being given the knowledge, tools and empowerment to make changes in the world. So why are world leaders deciding your future? And what can you do to get involved?
Fully discussing world leadership in-depth would take far more than just one blog post, but the overview is that in most countries globally, leaders such as presidents and prime ministers are voted for by the people of that country in elections, which decide the person who will officially represent your town, country, or a wider region (such as the European Union) in making policies and managing elements such as healthcare or transportation within that geographical area. They of course must work alongside others to help make these changes – they can’t simply do what they want – but as the elected official they are deemed to be representative of the views of most of that region.
The candidate that you choose to vote for should be whoever best represents the views that you have and the issues that you are passionate about – whether that be environmental protection, improvements to education or healthcare services, or changes in certain laws. There is no one right candidate – and there may be several whose views you agree with.
Democracy (another difficult issue to discuss all of in one post) concerns your ability to vote, and the voting system itself. It ensures there is an elected representative that reflects most of the views of the country – but they do not have to win all of the votes. This means that there will likely always be people who don’t like the current political leader (or party) or have voted for someone different, which can be frustrating when you feel you have a leader who does not represent the changes that you wish to see, and is seemingly deciding your future for you – especially for those not old enough to vote (you must be over 18 to vote in the UK, for example).
At a global level, you seemingly have even less power to decide who controls issues that affect a much wider group of people – such as the effect of global warming on the whole world. You are only permitted to vote in your country of nationality, and getting involved in world issues can seem like an impossible challenge – so much so that it can feel difficult to even care at a point.
However, there are many ways that you as a young person can get involved – and it is so important that you do.
1. The British Youth Parliament allows 11-18-year-olds to become elected representatives, empowering young people to bring about social change.
2. There are a number of Youth Leadership Programmes offered by local councils through the British Youth Council that provide training programmes and workshops for those young people wanting to get involved in leadership and politics in various ways.
3. If you feel passionate about a local, national or even international issues, you can write to your local MP, mayor or other elected official and put your views across. Sometimes it can take a long time to get a response, but often they will respond to your points – of if they are really interested in finding out more about your cause they may invite you to a meeting to discuss it further. This is a great way to connect with such representatives – and you will have the chance to ask questions too.
4. Get involved by attending youth summits – such as One Young World
5. You can get more information and contacts on how to participate at a global level from places such as the United Nations Population Fund.
6. If you are old enough to vote – go and vote! It may seem confusing, boring or frustrating, but it is one of the most important things you can do to see changes in your country.