by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Youth participation in elections and other events is very important, however is one of the biggest challenges in Papua New Guinea.
Over the years, youth participation in decision making processes were not important but, this is slowly changing as awareness initiatives are invested into addressing this issue.
With the country’s drive to implementing the Sustainable Development Goal or SDG’s, youth participation is significant, especially with the upcoming elections.
According to a collective view by the four Youth Champions for SDG’s, youth participation in the coming election plus other activities is critical. Here is what each had to say about youth and their participation in the election:
According to Fredah Joses, one of the Youth Champions for SDG, categorising is a major problem that affects many youths. This has discouraged many youth groups from actively participating in such activities. Fredah, who is an advocate on politics, governance, marginalised participation and women, said categorising is common in Papua New Guinea, and affects not only youth but other age groups as well. Because youth are categorised as less important, many do not participate and believe elections are only for others and not them.
Nathan, who is also a Youth Champion for SDG, said although youth participation in elections is important, many do not participate. One of the the things Nathan mentioned is that the youth today are not being serious about elections. He said many think elections are for others, and consider elections least important and tend to be ignored. For Nathan, choosing the right leader is important for the youths, as they will be the ones moving forward into the future, and benefiting from the decisions made today. He further urged the all youth in PNG, to choose wisely in the coming elections, as their decision in contributing to the choice of leader, will determine the kind of future they long to see.
In support to both Fredah and Nathan, Lydia Dimokar,i who is another Youth Champion highlighted the importance of providing relevant information. Lydia believes information is very important for all young citizens. If they understand what the election is, the importance and why their participation is important, it will help them understand the operations of the government systems and the elections. With so many issues affecting youth, one way to helping them understand their rights is by providing reliable and relevant information. Without information, there will be disconnection, which will result in problems.
Now with the launch of the Youth Champions for SDG, the nominated four Youth Champions Fredah Joses, Lydia Dimokari, Nathan Garry, and Raylance Mesa will work together with UN and respective organisations to raise more awareness on such issues to empower and inspire the other youth throughout Papua New Guinea.