Let’s debunk the ‘apolitical youth’ myth

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Participants at European Youth Event 2016. It is time to debunk the myth that young people are not interested and don't vote, says Anna Widegren, Secretary General of the European Youth Forum. [European Youth Forum]

Young people don’t care. Young people don’t engage. Young people don’t vote. How many times have we heard these clichés? How long will we keep perpetuating this myth? Young people do participate. Young people do care, young people are political, writes Anna Widegren.

Anna Widegren is Secretary General of the European Youth Forum.

But what does it mean to be political? From the Brexit fallout to the refugee crisis, young people are at the heart of some of 2017’s most difficult predicaments.

We’re not passive observers but are often the protagonists. We are engaged, we don’t hide behind our keyboards— we are out there fighting for our diverse beliefs.

Starting from their local communities through to global movements, young people are participating and taking action, organising, both in the analogue and the virtual world.

We believe we can push for a new narrative, and together find new solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.  We want to absorb all the knowledge we can from older generations, collaborate, transform and have a meaningful impact.

We have a lot to offer and we want to be part of the discussion. We bring dynamism, passion, experience and ideas. But we are not just talking about having a seat at the table. We are talking about making the table larger, leaving no one behind and including the ideas of all of us— all those whose voices aren’t given a platform.

According to a European Youth Forum report on the state of youth rights in Europe, young people are still at risk of discrimination. We still face injustice on the grounds of our age affecting everything from educational opportunities to our employability.

Behind the statistics there are millions of young people struggling to be independent, struggling to have access to education and fighting for political participation. Society strives to create new opportunities and improve social mobility, but the reality is that not all young people can grasp them. Now is the time to put an end to the slacktivist stereotype.

The 10th edition of Yo!Fest @ the EYE2018 is our chance to have a creative platform that changes the conversation.

By leaving our political divisions behind we can work together on common issues often left at the bottom of the political agenda. EYE2018, organised by the European Parliament, is an opportunity for young people to debate the issues they care about, but also for decision-makers to collaborate with younger generations to make a lasting difference.

The European Youth Forum’s Yo!Fest @ the EYE2018 aims to be a part of inspiring this transformation. How to integrate young people into the European agenda will be a key topic of debate among over 8,000 young Europeans coming together in Strasbourg on 1-2 June 2018. The festival will include a series of interactive workshops and debates supporting young people’s concerns in a direct, honest and transparent way.

Registrations for EYE2018 opened on 10 October. Young Europeans aged between 16 and 30 can take part in this unique experience to change the future. You can find all information in the “take part!” section of the EYE2018 website and by checking out the first draft of the programme.

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