“Despite the myth of political complacency among young people, they are eager to participate in the democratic process”.
When I was younger I believed that no one is too young to change the world. Now I think the same, but I realise that you need to do it with a strong network of connections. We want to connect. We want to build trust. We’re human beings, and we are all wired to belong. And how Leo Bottary says, «connections plus trust plus empathy and kindness equal amazing things«.
For that, when I founded the Young Politicians of the Americas community in 2018, I knew that young people want to have a real impact on our society, despite often being labelled apathetic or politically disengaged, but the scenes at climate change demonstrations, including the climate strike in schools, the campaign for marriage equality, and the outpouring of support for mental health awareness in recent years demonstrate how vague that stereotype is.
But voting or protest actions are not the only forms of political participation of young people (let’s remember that there are 1.2 billion young people between 15 and 24 years old in the world, representing 16% of the world’s population); many want to engage professionally in the political world, to bring about real change in society, but they face numerous challenges to achieve it.
CHALLENGES FOR YOUNG POLITICIANS
The first, and in my view the most important, is the lack of solid networking structures that allow young politicians to share knowledge, ideas and experiences, as well as with other senior politicians and political professionals. An understanding that would help to avoid making the same mistakes, or to take advantage of the successes achieved in previous experiences.
For this reason, Young Politicians of the Americas was born as a meeting point for politicians and related professionals of any age, interested in sharing their experiences and reflections through meetings and professional connections activities.
Second, if you are a woman no matter how prepared you are, you must work twice as hard if you want to succeed in today’s politics. The underrepresentation of young women in politics is a democratic deficit that needs to be addressed. According to UN Women, worldwide only 2.6% of parliamentarians are under 30 years old and less than 1% of these young politicians are women.
Party democracy and the promotion of women in decision-making positions are essential. In addition, the equal participation of women in politics plays an essential role in the overall process of advancement of women and society.
And this was a severe problem in 2018, just as it is today, which is why the Young Politicians of the Americas community also seeks to be a place of inspiration, especially for young female politicians who want to connect to help each other in their professional growth.
Third, in countries where parties do not bear the costs of campaigning, young politicians face financial problems when running for political office.
The cost of campaigns can run into thousands of euros, which is out of reach for most young aspiring politicians who do not have a political godfather. This presents an opportunity to reimagine innovative ways to reduce the cost of political campaigns, making political office affordable and ensuring that campaign costs do not play a deterrent role among other factors that discourage young people from seeking political office.
In the Young Politicians community, we help our members globally showcase their political engagement and connect with potential donors.
Last but not least, is the low visibility of young politicians within the parties and towards society. To improve this, training focused on improving the skills of young politicians on how to communicate effectively in the political space and use the political media to gain visibility is needed.
We are committed to being a bridge between young politicians and professionals or companies that can teach them how to gain visibility. Topics to study such as «appearing on camera«, how to write press releases and statements, or how to perform during press conferences. Another important topic is how to speak in public and write a good speech. Finally, young politicians cannot ignore the use of social networks for political communication.
Young people are underrepresented in most political institutions, but this is largely due to the strong challenges they face, and it is important to erase this because the thinking of younger politicians will promote innovative welfare policies – more in line with the new times – than older politicians, who will instead favour policies aimed at traditional problems.
I founded the Young Politicians community to try to change this situation, giving more visibility and strengthening the connections of young politicians around the world. And… it’s not easy 😉
To achieve this, in the community we establish permanent online working meetings with our members to learn about their professional growth needs, activities to share experiences and best practices, as well as personal conversations to help them get concrete connections that are useful in their political career.
As William Gumede, an analyst in Johannesburg, South Africa, said, «The great interest of young people in politics is something to be tremendously optimistic about….. The big question is: how do we take advantage of this, how do we support these younger leaders?«
*** BEFORE YOU GO
Quote of the Week: “People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing you are the beholder«.- Salma Hayek
The above article is a weekly summary of my thoughts on my work as a connector that is ready for leaders around the world.
You can also enjoy the Let’s Connect Live where I interview business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and inspirational thinkers.
Jose Raul Vaquero is President of the documentalistas.org Foundation and Founder of clubimpulso.net which connects more than 100,000 professionals from 24 countries. For this work, he has been recognized by several governments and organizations. Finally, he’s also the Founder of the Young Politicians of the Americas community.