ActionAid, YPF for incorporating youth perspective in policymaking  

ActionAid, YPF for incorporating youth perspective in policymaking

ActionAid and Youth Policy Forum (YPF) jointly organised a flagship event, “Youth Manifesto for Action: Incorporating the voice of the Youth in policy making” on the 25 of September, 2023 at a hotel in the capital.  

As the election of 2023 is drawing close, different political parties are formulating their election manifestos. Keeping this in mind, ActionAid and YPF jointly took the initiative to ensure that the youth perspectives are effectively incorporated into the upcoming manifesto of each political party. 

The event was attended by representatives of 7 different political parties: BNP, Awami League, Jatiya Party, Bangladesh Kallyan Party, Zaker Party, Rashtro Shongskar Andolon, National Democratic Movement (NDM). Distinguished Members of Parliament Ahsan Adelur Rahman MP,  Nilphamari-4, Mohammad A. Arafat MP, Dhaka-17, Nahim Razzaq MP, Shariatpur-3 and Tabith Mohammed Awal, Executive Committee Member, BNP participated in the discussion. 

Prominent Youth Leaders from various localities and youth-led civil society organisations, including the President of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) and Joint Secretary of Dhaka University Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) were present at the event who placed their demands to the policy makers.  

YPF and ActionAid Bangladesh jointly conducted a thorough three-month long rigorous research through both online and offline surveys, FGDs and Social media surveys to identify the pressing demands of the youth pertaining to various contemporary and long-term policy issues.  

The demands centered around education and employability skills, poverty alleviation, food and social security, climate change,energy and infrastructure, technology, healthcare and sexual health rights, gender and inclusion, economic upgrading and politics and governance. Those demands were thoroughly analysed and used to create an effective “Youth Manifesto” that was presented to both current and potential policy makers of Bangladesh.   

Speakers at ActionAid and YPF event

The two most common demands that emerged from all the youth groups present were regarding Climate change and the skills gap in catering to the demands of the 4th IR. Leaders from different youth groups shared the common demands pertaining to Climate change, such as transitioning to renewable energy, building climate resilience and empowering the young to work towards building resilience. They also emphasized on identifying the skills gap and bolster industry-academia linkage.  

Korban Ali, Deputy Director, Democracy International highlighted, “We need youth representation in the parliament as well as an allocated budget for empowering the youth.”  

The policy makers from various political parties had a consensus on the need to increase youth participation in policymaking.  

Farhan Arif, Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Jatiotabadi Chatra Dal said “At the end of the day, the youth will have to come forward to save Bangladesh. Those who are young, they are the ones who need to rise up and be more involved in politics”.  

When asked about the lack of youth representation in parliament, Saddam Hussain, President, BCL reiterated, “it should be made mandatory for parties to nominate the youth in order to increase representation of the youth in decision making.”  

Tabith Awal, who is also a mentor of YPF Governance Apprenticeship Initiative, focused on the need of “lead by doing” and issues like mental health and sexual and reproductive rights.  

He reiterated the need for ensuring nutritional security in Bangladesh. Additionally, Nahim Razzaq MP, accepted and highlighted the need for continued commitment towards facilitating public and private partnerships, a bi-tier education system like Singapore, increased regional cooperation, good governance and so on.  

He further added the significance of social enterprises to tackle climate change and create opportunities for youth as well as community-based activism for various policy reforms. Ahsan Adelur Rahman, Nilphamari MP focused on mobilizing our human resources and upskilling the youth demographic of the country. He emphasised having megaprojects on human resources, not just on infrastructure.  

The 4-hour long event concluded with the keynote speech of Mohammad A. Arafat MP who stressed the need for youth to keep seeking good governance while committing one’s own self to it as well.