Member of Parliament, Mr. Premnath C. Dolawatta, emphasized his intention to introduce a bill to establish a mandatory 25% representation of youth within local government bodies. This significant proposal underscores the commitment to fostering generational inclusivity and engaging the perspectives of young citizens in governance processes.
The Parliamentarian highlighted that the objective of this initiative is to reinstate an opportunity that has historically existed in our nation but was regrettably lost over time. He expressed confidence in garnering the backing of both parliamentary colleagues and the general public to realize this endeavour.
Member of Parliament Premnath C. Dolawatta shared these sentiments during a press conference convened at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (18), under the theme “Collective path to a stable country”
In addition, the parliamentarian emphasized that President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s agenda is centred around affording opportunities to the youth of our nation and facilitating their active involvement in the decision-making framework.
Mr. Dolawatta further elaborated on this perspective.
The discourse surrounding youth representation remains consistent, acknowledging the historical backdrop of youth-led uprisings in our nation, such as the events of 1971 and 1989.
Notably, it was subsequent to the 1989 unrest that a paradigm shift occurred, affording the youth of our country the prospect of engaging in politics and facilitating essential interventions to enable their participation.
The Youth Discontent Commission had initially extended a significant opportunity by proposing a provision for 25% youth nominations within local government bodies. However, an unfortunate turn of events occurred when the introduction of women’s representation rights in the previous season led to the inadvertent dismissal of the youth’s entitlement, as stipulated by the relevant Local Government Act.
As a result, the 2018 local government elections were marked by the notable absence of the anticipated involvement of young individuals. Instead of the anticipated vibrant and youthful engagement, the electoral landscape was predominantly shaped by an older demographic.
While discussions surrounding youth representation within parliamentary contexts have been commonplace, the actual realization of such opportunities has remained infrequent. Conversely, youth representation within local government structures has been a consistent practice for decades. This history of youth engagement has witnessed instances of young individuals, devoid of political familial backgrounds, successfully securing parliamentary positions and even ministerial roles.
In response to this issue, I have taken the initiative to present a proposal to amend the Local Government Act and reinstate the rightful provision of 25% nominations for youth candidates. This proposal, brought forth as a private member’s bill, has endured a protracted period of deliberation within the Parliamentary Constitution Committee and the Cabinet. Private member’s proposals often undergo intricate pathways before culminating in the enactment of legislation.
Notably, the Cabinet has endorsed the Youth Representation Act on two separate occasions, signifying the recognition of the significance of this matter. As we commemorate this year’s Youth Day, it is worth highlighting that the upcoming parliamentary session holds the potential for a substantial breakthrough. The re-introduction of the bill during this session endeavours to finally solidify the realization of a 25% youth representation within our governance framework. This momentous step signals a promising outlook for the enactment of this vital legislation, reaffirming the commitment to empowering the youth and elevating their voices within the fabric of our democratic processes.
I extend my sincere appreciation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe for his invaluable support during the presentation of the private member’s bill to parliamentary. His dedication to affording greater opportunities to the youth is noteworthy, commendable and deserves recognition.
I hold the firm belief that support for this cause will extend beyond government-affiliated parties and encompass the entire spectrum of our society. The resurgence of youth representation, a heritage deeply entrenched in our nation’s legacy, is a unifying endeavour that transcends biased lines. As we continue our pursuit, I am confident that our collective efforts will culminate in the restoration of youth representation, reaffirming our commitment to empowering young voices and reclaiming their rightful place in our country’s governance.
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