Message from the United Progressive Party on International Youth Day, 2022

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The United Progressive Party (UPP) joins the youth of Antigua and Barbuda in celebrating International Youth Day today, August 12, under the theme “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages.”

The UPP recognizes that our current political systems will require significant reform to address the changing needs of our youth. Sadly, those set to inherit the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis and climate change have little influence on the systems that are now defining solutions to these problems.

Today’s youth are highly educated, exposed and vocal about the issues affecting their personal lives and our society at large. But although many are eager to contribute to programmes and policies that affect their future, they often feel trapped, with little power to advance on the social, economic or political ladder.

There is a general perception among our youth that our social and political processes have excluded them. This is not surprising, as many feel that traditional politics does not address their needs, nor does it consider the issues that are most important to them.

As a result, voter turnout has been low among our younger citizens; but it is not necessarily because they do not care. It is more likely due to a lack of belief in the system – which is understandable, given that they do not feel represented. Many are also extremely suspicious because of the corruption they have witnessed and the bureaucracy they have encountered.

Now, having survived an economic recession and a pandemic, our youth are challenged further by the rising cost of living, the lack of jobs and economic opportunities, and a rapidly advancing climate crisis.

But hope is on the horizon with the emergence of an organized generation of young voters, consumers and investors who are rallying behind urgent climate, fiscal and social justice.

Clearly, this generation wants to leave behind a world that is better than the one it inherited, and it is determined to change, irrevocably, the status quo.

Young people are becoming more politically engaged; and what makes their dedication to – and comprehension of – politics so important is that they see life very differently from older generations and traditional politicians.

Accordingly, today’s conscious youth will reject any government or institution that wants to hamstring them with “business as usual” policies.  With this in mind, the UPP is committed to maintaining ongoing dialogue with the youth to ensure we capture their imagination and can share their vision of the future.

Already, we are listening, so we can understand and learn from our youth in order to co-create solutions that will help to build a stronger economy and a better nation. We are joining with our young people in advancing bold, innovative, collective ideas.

To that end, the UPP has created a comprehensive Youth Agenda and we have sought the input of the Progressive Youth, our official youth arm. One of the proposals emanating from those discussions is increased youth representation at all levels of government, targeting at least:

– 25% in the Senate

– 25% across All Boards

– 10% of Board Chairs or Vice Chairs

– 25% on all major committees

Another policy proposal that we are excited about is the creation of a Youth Development Fund to which 10% of CIP Funds will be allocated for youth programmes, with education, sports, culture, agriculture and technology as priority areas.

The UPP welcomes further input, feedback and ideas of the youth, as we develop a comprehensive Youth Manifesto around which all young people can rally. It is critical to build intergenerational solidarity to create a future that works for all Antiguans and Barbudans and those who make this country their home.

On International Youth Day, and going forward, the UPP promises to “speak youth to power” and pledges to continue intergenerational conversations and collaboration.

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