Raising Young Voices

Apr 16, 2015

Participants of the Youth Dialogue. Photo by - UNDP

On 15 April 2015, the United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh hosted the first ever Youth Dialogue with the City Corporations mayoral candidates of Dhaka North at the Spectra Convention Centre in Gulshan. 

The theme of the Youth Dialogue was “Raising Young Voices!” which was joined by around 150 young people from all parts of Dhaka. The event provided these young people a platform to voice their concerns and questions regarding the upcoming City Corporation Mayoral Elections in Dhaka-North.

According to a 2014 UNFPA report approximately 50 million youth in Bangladesh are largely left out of the socio-economic and political plans that affect their lives. Designed to emphasize the voices of youth as an integral part of society, this event aimed to moderate youth’s concerns and questions and allow for the mayoral candidates to respond to their queries.

To achieve this UNDP collected over 150 questions from different youth organisations as well as from social media platforms reflecting a wide range of issues. The issues were divided in 7 thematic areas: transportation, water management and sanitation, accessibility and social inclusion, Young people as human resource and participatory force, public space and recreation, housing, transparency, accountability and coordination.  Later the UN Youth Advisory Panel (UNYAP) selected 16 questions which were asked to the Mayoral candidates during the event.

The answers from the 12 mayoral aspirants were spontaneous yet engaging.  All candidates decisively emphasized on tackling corruption, improving living standards of city dwellers and improving governance to make the city corporation more functional. 

UN Resident Coordinator Robert Watkins and UNDP Country Director Pauline Tamesis joined the event among others. The dialogue was moderated by Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous.

Although young people comprise approximately 40 percent of Bangladesh’s population, they are rarely included in the election and policy making processes of the country. Hence the event aims to strengthen advocacy for youth inclusion surrounding current issues that matter to them. The event acknowledges that youth have something to say about their city. By creating a platform for young people to engage with Mayoral candidates, UNDP aims to galvanize youth participation in the election process. 

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