From Participation to Meaningful Participation, Pt. 3
Updated: Jan 1, 2020
Hopefully you are all convinced of the importance of youth participation. Now I often make a distinction between youth participation and meaningful
A huge misconception is that you can simply put a young person at the table and have youth participation. That you can consult with a student association and have incorporated the voice of young people. That it is sufficient to sit down and listen to youth. In these series I will give a few concrete conditions in order to go from participation to meaningful participation.
We need to recognise that knowledge does not only include education, but also experience. Too often, I have heard that we, as young people, are not in a place to make recommendations or be part of the decision making process because we simply do not have the knowledge. And it is true that we do not have a university degree in the psyche of young people, neither do we have a PhD on the history of youth movements. But we are experts in being young, and knowing what young people want and need in order to live a happy and sustainable life. I have seen Hillary Clinton do a dab on television, the chairman of political parties did the mannequin challenge and our old Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende tried to skateboard and literally fell. Don’t understand me wrong, it is cool that they are trying to engage with young people. But they are going out of their way and I know for a fact, that this does. not. speak to to young people, it might even evoke more repulsion/lose them votes. And if Jan Peter Balkenende, the political chairman, or Hillary Clinton had meaningfully engaged with youth -giving them a meaningful position in their communication team for instance- this probably would not have happened. Just to show how young people DO have a great contribution to make. Even though we might not have the education, we do have the expertise.