To ensure participation of youths in politics, political parties must listen to young people and give priority to their expectations, panelists said at the National Youth Conference on Wednesday.
The conference was funded by the USAID under the project "Strengthening Political Landscape", and organaised by the Democracy International, at a hotel in the capital.
Representatives of political parties and various youth organisations participated in the conference, with Dana L Olds, chief of party of Democracy International, and Reed Aeschliman, mission director for USAID in Bangladesh, being present.
At the conference, inaugurating a year-long campaign called "Amio Jitte Chai" with an emphasis on citizens' expectations, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas said, "I have heard that youth interest in politics has decreased due to various reasons. There is a lack of adequate initiatives by the parties in this regard".
"Youth and women should be involved in the decision-making process in political parties," he added.
The US Ambassador further said that an election can be called democratic one only when all types of people are represented in it.
Participating in a panel discussion on youth perspectives and priorities, Kazi Zafarullah, a presidium member of the Awami League, said, "We don't listen to the youth, but we have to listen to them… Youths must demand that political parties take initiatives to increase employment, because employment opportunities are their right."
"Due to the existing crisis, the youth are afraid to join politics," said BNP Standing Committee member Selima Rahman, urging the youth to join politics to overcome the crisis and reflect new ideas.
Jatiya Party presidium member Fakhrul Imam said youth have always played an important role in social progress.
Awami League lawmaker Nahim Razzaque, Organising Secretary Ahmed Hossain and Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashim Kumar Ukil, and BNP's Organising Secretary Syed Imran Saleh Prince, Information Affairs Secretary Azizul Bari Helal, and Jatiya Party Vice President Ahsan Adelur Rahman, Presidium member Shameem Haider Patwary and Advisory Council member Mehezabinnesa Rahman were also among the panelists.
Saidur Rahman Mintu, Dhaka chapter vice president of the Multi Party Advocacy Forum (MAF), a platform formed of young leaders of the Awami League, BNP and Jatiya Party, and General Secretary Nur Jahan Akter delivered the welcome speech.