"How many years do the youth need to wait to get key positions in political parties?" asked Dhruba Raj Khanal, one of the youth participants during a six day long ‘ Virtual Youth Parliament School’ which kicked off on 12 October with participation of over 300 youth from Surdurpaschim Province, Karnali Province and Province 2.
The parliament school was organized with an objective to enhance youth’s knowledge on key concepts of the parliaments and approaches of civic engagement. In a panel discussion on "Essentials of democracy, democratic norms and values, erosion of democracy in national and international context, and youth’s role as custodians of democracy", youth got opportunity to ask their queries directly to the members of parliament and interact with them. The online school session will include a wide range of topics such as law-making process, function of parliamentary bodies at national and sub-national levels.
In the question raised by another youth participant Pushpa Upadhayay on the appropriate age of the students for political engagement, Member of the House of Representatives, Ram Kumari Jhankri, said, "Age is not a bar for aspiring youth for joining politics. I started my political journey when I was studying in grade 6.” She highlighted that, things in politics and parliaments are determined by delivery.
Similarly, Dr. Gopal Krishna Shiwakoti, President of International Institute for Human Rights, Environment and Development, encouraged youth to play vital role to make politicians and parliamentarians accountable through social media, campaigning for zero tolerance for violence and financial transparency during the elections and conducting youth centric election observations.
While MP Badri Pandey said that youth can play crucial role to further promote fair internal politics among the parties and at the same time they can advocate for correcting systems and characters in politics and parliaments.
Addressing the event, Pushpa Gharti, Deputy Speaker of Karnali Provincial Assembly said that, the initiatives will help youth to know about the lawmaking processes and create interest among them to be involved in the parliamentary affairs.
Dr. Raj Bahadur Shrestha, UNDP's Parliament Support Project's National Manager, said that the concept of school is an effort to re-direct the youth’s understanding and inspire them to play constructive role in parliamentary affairs, be it oversight, lawmaking or any other policy issues. “During this program, the youth will be able to understand issues on climate change, anti-corruption, openness of the parliament and later learn to address these issues with the use of tools for advocacy to engage with the parliament at provincial and federal level”, said Jagadish Ayer, President of Association of Youth Organization Nepal AYON.
The Youth Parliament School is being organized by AYON with technical support from UNDP's Parliament Support Project. At the end of the virtual school, provincial level civic forums of youth will be formed for their active engagement in parliamentary discourse.