Changing the way we change the world
If you’re between the ages of 15 and 24, you belong to a group of young people facing challenges like no generation before us. We make up 18% of the global population, with 87% of us living in developing countries, and 1 in 6 in conflict zones. We’re more likely than any other age demographic to work for little to no pay, in dangerous conditions, and in areas with no labour unions. It eats away at our employment prospects, forces us to take on shifty unpaid internships, and probably explains why we find nihilistic humour so funny.
Despite being overrepresented in exploitative social and economic environments, we’re still seriously underrepresented in politics. We’re facing a structural disregard for young people in international political institutions. Here in Australia, we have a real problem with youth in politics and poor political education in schools has rendered us unsure of how our democracy works.
But our generation is changing the game. Through social media, modern ICT, and media-savvy intuition, young people are connecting and mobilising in new and creative ways. We’re protesting, demonstrating, and enforcing an atmosphere of political accountability.
Young people are creating new, digital spaces that span countries, cultures, ethnicities, and even languages. Researchers from the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) have suggested that our subversive methods of engaging with politics is changing political systems themselves. “A new politics is required to win the hearts and minds of young Australians…a different politics that is more participatory, open, and digital.”
In the digisphere, we’re infiltrating exclusionary systems and becoming active participants in the political decision-making apparatus. We’re using memes to educate our friends about policies. We’re using Instagram to encourage our followers to call their MPs. We’re gathering our ideas and working together to bring them to the world’s attention.
Recently, International Youth Day invited us to celebrate the role of young people in our political and social systems. This year’s theme was “Safe Spaces for Youth.” The UN webpage tells us why this theme is important:
“Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.”
This is why Oaktree is dedicated to empowering young people to create spaces in which they can lead, demand, and create a more just world.
Oaktree's Meet your MP program equips young people with the education and training they need to directly engage with their local politicians. Our Youth Participation Practice Note explores the benefits of creating spaces for youth in parliament. And our Girls Education Initiative empowers young women by increasing the accessibility of secondary and tertiary education.
We're using our unique skills, interests, and channels of communication to establish a fair international society. When we create spaces for young people to work together, we don’t just change young people's’ experiences, we change the future.
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