Politicians on Saturday emphasised the need for increasing youth representation in the political decision making process, as a recent study revealed that youth participation in Bangladeshi politics is extremely low.
They made the suggestion while speaking at a national dialogue at the CIRDAP Auditorium.
ActionAid Bangladesh and Global Research and Marketing (GRM) shared their research findings, published in a report titled "Representation of Young People in the Local Government (Union Parishad), National Parliament and Political Parties in Bangladesh: Challenges, Opportunities and Way Forward," at the event.
According to the study, representation of members of parliament (MPs) under 30 years of age in the Bangladeshi parliament is lowest among South Asian countries (0.29%).
As per the 2018 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) report regarding youth participation in national parliament of the country, 5.71 percent MPs are under the age of 40 in Bangladesh, while the participation rate in Pakistan is 11.54 percent, 12.44 percent in Sri Lanka, 15.01 percent in India and 25.71 percent in Afghanistan.
Socioeconomic traits like poverty, illiteracy, gender inequality and a lack of democracy are the main reasons behind the poor representation of youth in politics of Bangladesh, the study found.
On behalf of GRM, Associate Professor of Jahangirnagar University Tamalika Sultana, conducted the research to examine the state of youth representation in the country.
She interviewed 204 young people aged between 18 and 35 years in six districts – Dhaka, Chattogram, Nilphamari, Kushtia, Satkhira and Bagerhat.
As special guest in the dialogue, state minister for Disaster Management and Relief Ministry Dr Md Enamur Rahman said skilled and competent politicians are very important for a country.
"The development of a country will be more dynamic and sustainable if we can ensure inclusion of a skilled youth force in politics and leadership. Young people can play a pivotal role to free the country from corruption. Investment for youths is profitable for the development of the country," Enamur added.
Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolon, said political parties should change their constitutions to ensue representation of young people in their decision making process.
ActionAid Bangladesh Director Asgar Ali Sabri said the practice of handing over the responsibility to juniors from seniors is very important.
"It is also necessary to bring positive change to the country with a combination of enthusiasm of young people and the experience of seniors," he added.
The study further found that families and the society do not permit young people to participate in politics.
Study participants said that although senior leaders listen to opinions of the youth, the final decision is always taken by them and young people's opinions are ignored.
Representation of the People Order (Amendment) Act 2009 did not mention any representation of youth in political party. In the National Youth Policy-2017, youth will have to involve in the decision-making process at local, national and international levels but the policy did not mention the way of the young's representations.
The study recommended every political party to allocate budget for the youth and spend it on training young leaders in the party ideologies, practice of democracy, and learn about new ideas of world politics.