A conference of 2000 young people in Dhaka on Sunday called for ending misuse of youth in politics and ensuring their right to vote in the coming parliamentary polls.
One third of Bangladesh’s current population comprises youth but these young people who will work and lead the nation in 2030 are unemployed in great numbers and are hardly ever consulted for any decisions of the state, the young delegates said.
Mostly tech-savvy, the youth demanded upholding their right to express themselves on the net, rejecting any law that limits the right to do so.
“Effective inclusion and representation of the youth must be ensured at all levels of politics, local governance and community activities,” Amreen Musa, a singer and youth representative, said, reading out a 25-point declaration of the day-long conference.
In the ‘Youth Declaration 2018’, the youth regretted, “One-third of the Bangladesh population is youth, aged between 18 and 35 years and we are the country’s main workforce who would remain active and lead the country in 2030. But the youth constitute three-fourths of the total unemployed people.”
Young individuals and the ones representing different organisations shared their experience and dreams, during the series of sessions of “Bangladesh and Agenda-2030, Expectations of the Youth’, organised by Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, at Krishibid Institute in the city.
The conference also demanded ‘enlightened democratic atmosphere’, including freedom of expression and right to assembly, for overall growth of the youth.
“We failed to tap full potential of a unique demographic dividend,” Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the Citizens’ Platform for SDGs, told the inaugural session.
He urged the political leaders to listen to the youth’s voice. “There are 4.5 crore (45 million) young voters who must be provided with a fair chance to vote this time,” he said.
The youth declaration demanded that the political parties must include in their manifestoes the pledge to stop misuse of youth forces in politics as well as to have well-defined programmes for development of the youth.
The youth lamented the lack of transparency in recruitment and distribution of official benefits, and the declaration demanded employment based on merit and promotion based on competence.
A ‘youth bank’ to help growth of young entrepreneurs was also recommended.
Senior participants at the conference expressed optimism that Bangladesh would continue its progress, thanks to innovative and industrious efforts of youth force.
“We must eradicate the culture of political misrule so that no one is left behind,” said Sultana Kamal, a core group member of the platform and former caretaker government adviser.
The prime minister’s international affairs advisor Gowher Rizvi said the young generation has to take responsibility to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
State minister for youth and sports Biren Sikder, UNDP’s country director Sudipto Mukerjee, Citizen’s Platform’s coordinator Anisatul Fatema Yousuf, media personality Hanif Sanket, women football team captain Sabina Khatun and international Math Olympiad gold medalist Ahmed Jawad Chowdhury also spoke at the inaugural session.