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Through its programme of activities, the BGIPU seeks to engage Parliamentarians in key global issues and works to expand awareness and understanding of foreign relations and the contribution to be made by the UK Parliament to consolidate parliamentary democracy worldwide.

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Young MPs call for greater youth participation

  • The UK was represented at the 4th IPU Conference of Young Parliamentarians by Danielle Rowley MP and Ranil Jayawardena MP
  • Delegates from across the world attended the conference hosted by the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa including the IPU President, Senator Gabriela Cuevas Barron
  • Ranil Jayawardena MP and Danielle Rowley MP call on the UK High Commission in Ottawa
Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Geneva

Young MPs from 51 countries have defined a youth-centred action plan that promotes inclusive democratic and socioeconomic policies for all.  The UK was represented by Daniella Rowley MP (Labour Party) and Ranil Jayawardena MP (Conservative Party) supported by the BGIPU's International Project Manager for political empowerment, Ms Emily Davies. 

More than 120 young men and women MPs who attended the Inter-Parliamentary Union's (IPU) Fourth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians in Ottawa, Canada, on 17-18 November, took a united approach to end exclusion and marginalization of young people.

Today, some 27 million young people are on the move. Conference participants expressed grave concern about reports of young migrants and refugees being exploited while in transit, in particular reports of some being sold off in slave auctions, along with the global rise in hate speech, xenophobia and racism. Some of the actions they called for in response included legislating and speaking out against hate speech and exclusionary policies, implementing international conventions protecting refugees and migrants while placing human rights, values and principles at the centre of policymaking and political discourse on migration, and incorporating youth perspectives into efforts to end conflicts that force people to flee.

When 71 million young men and women are left unemployed, it wastes valuable talent and energy, and fosters an environment where poverty, alienation, and even extremism can take root. The young MPs identified ways to transform economies to reduce inequalities and exclusion. They included putting young people and future generations at the centre of socioeconomic policymaking, strengthening linkages between social and economic policies, overseeing government actions to support youth entrepreneurship and vocational training, and addressing the generational gaps in public spending. They also considered basic income initiatives based on inclusive financial inclusion programmes as a means to combat inequalities and marginalization and enhance well-being.

The Conference participants made it clear that social and economic inclusion could not work without political inclusion. Women, young people, indigenous peoples, and minorities of all stripes needed to have a seat at the decision-making table. Immediate action was needed to end youth under-representation in parliaments. Such action should consist of opening up political parties to young people, eliminating age-based rules that prevented youth from running for office, and guaranteeing that young parliamentarians had access to leadership roles in parliament. Participants also called for the launch of an IPU global campaign to drive support for youth participation by world leaders from different sectors including politicians, entrepreneurs, sportsmen and women, and technology experts.

"The young MPs here are proof that solutions to our international challenges can only be found by including them in leadership positions. The power of young people should not be underestimated," declared IPU President, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the youngest ever IPU President, who had herself participated in the youth movement at the IPU.

The IPU Fourth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians was organized jointly with the Parliament of Canada. Support for the Conference was provided by the Japanese foundation, Worldwide Support for Development.

The Conference was part of the IPU's efforts to promote youth participation in parliament. The IPU supports parliaments in facilitating the access of young people to political decision-making, empowering young MPs and young people in general, and including a youth perspective in legislation and policies.