The Body Shop and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Launch Global Collaboration Calling for More Young Voices in the Halls of Power
Millions of young people are missing from public life. With the climate crisis, global conflict and generational inequalities running rampant, the inputs, perspectives and representation of youth are needed more than ever.
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The Body Shop and United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth launch ‘Be Seen Be Heard’ to amplify young voices in the halls of power. From left to right; Samson Itodo, Gina Martin, Jayathma Wickramanayake, Chris Davis. Photo credit: Joel Sheakoski, Joel S Photo (Photo: Business Wire)
Almost half the world's population is under 30. Yet, they make up only 2.6% of parliamentarians around the world**. The average age of a world leader is currently 62***. Of all the parliaments in the world, 37% do not have a single Member of Parliament (MP) under age 30** and less than 1% of these young MPs are women.
Young people have the right to be included in political decisions that affect them, however, numerous barriers prevent their participation. The Body Shop and the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth are collaborating to change this through the global Be Seen Be Heard campaign, which seeks to create long-term structural changes to decision-making to be more inclusive of young people.
It is launched today with the release of a research piece titled ‘Be Seen Be Heard: Understanding young people’s political participation’.
The research includes the largest-ever survey carried out by The Body Shop, covering 26 countries with 27,043 respondents. It found that 82% of people surveyed agree that political systems need drastic reform to be fit for the future.
Two in three people also agree that the age balance in politics is wrong, with 8 in 10 people of all ages believing the ideal voting age (the age when someone can first vote) is 16 to 18, despite that in most countries the voting age is 18 or over. A third of those under age 30 surveyed would consider running for office versus only a fifth of those over age 30. People across all age groups agree that more opportunities for younger people to have a say in policy development and/or change would make political systems better.
David Boynton, CEO of The Body Shop says, “Our position is clear. The world’s problems cannot be solved by the same people making the same choices. The majority of young people are positive about the future, and we need to hear their views and ideas inside the halls of power. We will use our global reach to galvanise awareness and support, as we have in the past.”
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth says, “The intergenerational gap in power, influence and trust constitutes one of the biggest challenges of our time. Participation is a right, and a lack of youth representation where decisions are made contributes to a growing mistrust towards political institutions and a sense of alienation from elected leaders, caused by policies that do not reflect the priorities of youth, mirror their concerns or speak their language. This campaign is an opportunity to change that.”
The report suggests that young people’s participation in public decision-making could be improved long-term by a number of initiatives including; lowering voting ages, increasing formal youth representation, removing barriers for young people to participate in public decision-making, simplifying registration for first-time voters and improving young people’s leadership skills.
The campaign is launching globally in May 2022 and will run until mid-2025, driven by action in over 2,600 Body Shop stores in 75 countries, across six continents.
More information here.