Here’s how to get the youth involved with world issues

Published June 7, 2022, 11:02 AM

by Jane Kingsu-Cheng

The Body Shop and the United Nations Secretary-General Envoy on Youth are working together to achieve this goal

Did you know that almost half of the world’s population is below 30 years old? But with such a big number, they only make 2.6 percent of the parliamentaries around the world. This means that the youth are not as active as they should be. Other stats show that the average age of a world leader is 62 years old, while 37 percent do not have a single Member of Parliament (MP) under 30 years old. Less than one percent are women, too!

Alarming as it is, The Body Shop and the United Nations Secretary-General Envoy on Youth realizes how important the youth is when it comes to taking a stand for the future of the world. This is why they collaborated in inviting more young people to join the Be Seen Be Heard campaign. Issues such as climate crisis, global conflic, and generational inequalities running rampant, the inputs, perspectives and representation of youth need to be discussed, now more than ever.

Launched last May 11, this campaign hopes to be more inclusive for young people to participate. Their joint release report on “Be Seen Be Heard: Understanding young people’s political participation,” reveals data from one of the largest survey done by The Body Shop last December 2021, including 26 countries with 27,043 respondents with over half of them under 30 years old.

It revealed that 82 percent agree that political systems have undergo drastic reform. Eighty four percent of them think politicians are “self-interested” while 75 percent find politicians corrupt. Two out of three individuals that the age balance in the political sphere is not correct—eight out of 10 think the ideal voting age should be between 16 to 18 years old. One third of the respondents under 30 years of age considered running for office, while a fifth of the group hopes that there will be more opportunities for the younger generation to be involved.

“Our position is clear. The world’s problems cannot be solved by the same people making the same choices. Our research indicates the majority of young people are positive about the future, and we need to hear their views and ideas inside the halls of power. Be Seen Be Heard is rooted in creating a fairer world with and for young people, and together with the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth – we are on a mission to do exactly that,” says CEO of The Body Shop says David Boynton.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake adds, “The intergenerational gap in power, influence and trust constitutes one of the biggest challenges of our
time. As young people have made abundantly clear through their activism on the streets, in civil society and on social media, they care deeply about the transformational change needed to create more equal, just and sustainable societies. Participation is a right, and this campaign is an opportunity to change that.”

Campaigning in their 2,600 stores in over 75 countries, this collaboration hopes to make that change. Soon, we hope, we will see more of the young in terms of public decision-making such as lower voting ages and simplifying registrations, more formal youth representations, and improvements on leadership skills for the youth.

Local activations are also underway, working with youth-led non-government organizations to support and paved the way for the youth to be heard and take part in making the world a better place in the future. Launched globally last May, this campaign will run until mid-2025. For more details, visit this link.