#NotTooYoungToRun - Never Too Young To Run

Avatar International Youth Representative
Unitika Schlawenger
Member since June 19, 2014
  • 49 Posts
  • Age 20

The almost past event of the great divide which saw voters in the UK leave the EU contained us teens “whining” on social media – but after all we too have rights.

Joshua Wilson, a student age 19, summed it up well:

“Young people’s lives have been made harder, and the generations who voted for this will be dead by the time its implementation takes full effect.”

Doesn’t the next generation get a voice to express its own future? Or does it really have to suffer?

“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”

Nelson Mandela has said.

And if you listen to what Bill Bradley says when he remarks that “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better”, then Kofi Annan is on the correct page for saying:

“Any society that does not succeed in tapping into the energy and creativity of its youth will be left behind”

Yet, today, unfortunately, we live in a world, where despite modernity, we have yet to realise the weight and potential of the youth.

It is fair enough to admit that awareness about this matter is slowly being highlighted, which is some relief. Our own platform, VOY, proves what UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi remarked:

“Children’s voices are stronger that the voices of division. Their voices speak louder that the voice of hate”

These supportive remarks surely pave the conclusion: Youth matter.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population. They deserve to be counted.

Youth should be able to vote too.

So when the recent #NotTooYoungToRun campaign was tweeted out by the hashtag organizer @YIAGA (Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement) and the UN Youth Envoy – I, as International Youth Representative, couldn’t miss out the opportunity to represent youth in this particular debate.

7 December 2016 marked the campaigns twitter chat on the topic “Legal Barriers to Running for Office”. And the hour long party already looked bright for success – the chat was open with not only the Youth Envoy, and other UN accounts speaking, but youth itself. This was the active participation which couldn’t get healthier.

The Chat included questions posted up on both UN Youth Envoy’s and YIAGA’s twitter accounts, who later retweeted, liked, and engaged with discussions, along with other UN benches and positions.

Here, I collect just some of the many diverse engagements the healthy questions attained.

Question 1: Why is it important for young people to be given a fair chance at running for public office?

Answers/Discussions: (all via Twitter)

- @ennymoney50 : Because we are the leader of today

- @NinaForgwe : @YIAGA young people bring change, innovation and a strong dose of development in our changing communities

@YMCABauchi: If at a Given number Of age You are a Responsible citizen that can Vote then,It fair that can Be Voted as Reponsible leader

@GlobalLeaderNe: Youth are a significant majority that is currently being sidelined in decision making in Africa 65%of Pop is below 35

@MosesMachipsia: Youth we are the future. There cannot be any sustainable democracy if we are not included in decision making

Question 2: What are some of the legal barriers young people currently face in running for public office?

Youth Envoy shares important figures:

Currently, over 70% of countries have age restrictions on running for public office.

@FBHigh: @YIAGA Age and Experience while other barriers are but not limited to Environment, Social Status, Finance, Tribe, Gender

@NinaForgwe: @UNYouthEnvoy young people in Cameroon can join the military at 18 but cnt vote at 18. If they can fight they can decide

- Many users mutually agreed that Age Restriction was a common barrier.

Question 3: How can legal barriers be addressed in your specific country or context? Share your view!

@FBHigh: @UNYouthEnvoy Exactly what you re doing nw."Campaign", Review Of The Constitution, Involving Youth In Decision Making

@yoosooph_shams: @Unitika_S @UNYouthEnvoy for this to happen, we have to remove legal, pol. and social barriers that consistently limit youth participant

@MosesMachipsia: I think there should be support for youth to creat spaces for them to advocate for space at the decision table

The European Youth Forum adds facts to the table:

51 % of the world’s population is under 30, yet only 2% are members of parliaments

@YIAGA: despite prescribing 18 as the voting age, restrictions create a gap btw voting age & eligibility for office

My addition (@Unitika_S): @YIAGA for any barriers to be broken, our own political leaders must themselves stop ignoring youth.

Question 4: What can young people do to bring down or remove existing legal barriers to running for office?

@mskeypreneurs: @UNYouthEnvoy create young-led organizations that create impact and opportunities so that others c our age group is vital

My addition (@Unitika_S) : @UNYouthEnvoy Instead of political movements, unite and go ahead and talk straight at political parties. Meaningful youth participation.

The Global Leaders Network added a well said solution:

Solutions: 1. Strong youth advocacy 2. civic education. Youth need to understand why it is important to get involved

The European Youth Forum added a good suggestion:

@Youth_Forum: Aligning the minimum voting age with the legal age to run for office should facilitate greater participation by youth

Question 5: What can governments/legislators do to ensure that young people have a fair chance at running for public office?

@MUHINDOMelchis1: @UNYouthEnvoy UN must vote a resolution on it, if not governments will not initiate actions for ensuring this challenge

My suggestions (@Unitika_S)

1- @UNYouthEnvoy A strengthened, and coordinated UN action is essential to achieve the overall goal. UN should discuss this @ large scale

2- plus women should be taken care of too and should be supported due to some cultural and social barriers too.

- Most members agree about the idea of unity for the matter

@YIAGA posts some relief causing news – the situation has somewhat started to be implemented:

The two #NotTooYoungToRun bills at the @HouseNGR by @tonynwulu & in the @NGRSenate by @Abdulaziz_Nyako seek lower ages for public office

Question 6: What are useful ways to increase awareness of age discrimination faced by young people in many parts of the world?

@pragyalamsal: @UNYouthEnvoy Need to tell success stories of young people. Should convince societies that youth can change the world.

My suggestions (@Unitika_S):

@UNYouthEnvoy Leadership training. Legal frameworks, policies, and plans are all needed to create the proper environment. First steps.

My further research prompts me to share my attained knowledge:

UN-HABITAT Opportunities Fund 4 Urban Youth-led Development success story that #NotTooYoungToRun is possible

Note that in fact, UN Habitat Youth, is also engaging in our chat.

The UN Youth Envoy, who played a very large part hosting the chat, thanks everyone for the chat, and says good-bye with an open-door agreement that soon, there will be a recap on our campaign.

Surprisingly, more happiness and relief fills me, to see the campaign being implemented the very day:

Stuart Donaldson MP tweets

@StuieDonaldson : Looking forward to leading a Westminster Hall debate on #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. Starting at 4pm.

I make my closing statement to my fellow audience:

@Unitika_S: @UNYouthEnvoy A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Hopefully this will be a success. Thank you.


For more information of this campaign visit


Catch and join further chats and discussions on social media - Everyone is welcome and encouraged - Stay up to date by following @YIAGA on Twitter

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