HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Youth Leaders at Parliament
HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, WEDNESDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2012: Youth leaders visited the Solomon Islands parliament today for a special tour to learn more about how young people can be involved in political processes.
The tour is part of the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference, which opened with a visit from the Duke of Cambridge on Monday.
40 youth leaders from 14 Pacific Island countries were hosted by the Young Women’s Parliament Group, which gave a presentation on a recent mock parliament on women’s issues held in Solomon Islands. The mock parliament is a process run strictly following parliament rules and protocols but held with women playing roles of the politicians and officials in the historic Solomon Islands Parliament building.
Solomon Islands has only one female Member of Parliament and only one young Member of Parliament. Recently, Solomon Islands engaged in a political debate about whether or not to introduce what is known as Temporary Special Measures to mandate at least 10% of parliament’s seats be devoted to women.
Natalia Hong, Chair of the Young Women’s Parliament Group, explained that the issue of the Temporary Special Measures was debated by the mock parliament to educate on parliamentary procedure, highlight cross cutting issues of women’s participation in politics, provide information on both sides of an issue and do something different. She said while the issue was a sensitive one, the debate in mock parliament was informative and increased awareness of what people thought about the issue. She said: “After the experience of being involved in the mock parliament, people also appreciate how much hard work it is to run a parliament sitting. But they also realise how they can have a voice in the parliament.”
One of the participants in this week’s Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference, Tarita Sione (Commonwealth Regional Youth Caucus Representative from Samoa) commented that they too had held mock youth parliaments. The next one will be held in Apia during youth week in December. Representatives are selected from each of the constituencies to participate in the mock youth parliament, which debates youth-related issues related to education, employment, health and others.
Like the Solomon Islands experience, Tarita Sione said the mock youth parliament was valuable for education and empowerment of young people:
“Sometimes we face misperceptions - people say “oh children are making decisions”. But what young people gain from the experience is confidence, inspiration, awareness and the opportunity to analyse and to advocate on youth related issues.”
“Young people really love it, they really love being the Minister of Education for a day, or having the chance to speak on issues that they would not normally talk about. It gives young people the impression that yes, I can be a politician, and I can be involved in politics.”
Young people (15-29 years old) make up 60% of the population in the Pacific but are underrepresented in politics.
The Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference being held this week is part of the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s Pacific Centre’s work to engage and empower young people (ages 15-29) and enhance their contribution to development.
Young people from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Marshall Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are participating in the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference. The conference concludes Saturday 22 September.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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