More and more children and youth are at risk of falling through the increasing gaps of Sweden’s social safety net, with exclusion and vulnerability as a result. When looking into the future, we see prior threats becoming reality. At the same time, current legislation does not protect the most vulnerable. Groups of children and youth in vulnerability are pitted against each other. Political efforts to support one group often take place at the expense of another, while the youth voice often is excluded from the solution building and the democratic decision making processes.
During my years of civic engagement, I have seen a handful youths being invited to have a seat at the table. Invited, but not listened to. Invited, but not seen as a considerable part to be taken into account. Invited, but not given the founding democratic power of influence. With that being said, how come that I find the lack of inclusion and democratic influence of youth to be a central issue and a threat to Sweden’s aim of becoming an inclusive democracy? Because the current decision makers create the policies and decide the direction of the future of the lives that we, the youth, will live.
Our future, whether in terms of opportunities to enter the Swedish labour market, the right to seek asylum or the effects of climate change, lies in the hands of those who are currently in power.
Our future, whether in terms of opportunities to enter the Swedish labour market, the right to seek asylum or the effects of climate change, lies in the hands of those who are currently in power. Since January 1 2020, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been part of the Swedish law. Therefore, Sweden has agreed to fulfill the commitment in Article 2, stating that our nation “shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status”.
In order for current decision makers to build inclusive policies, youth with various experiences and diverse backgrounds need to be provided both space and the power to influence. Policies that will affect young people’s lives both today, but so even more when entering adulthood, need to be inclusive. For that to be a reality and in order for Sweden to ensure the commitments of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a vast diversity of youth voices needs to be taken into account.
Youth needs to be included within all parts of the democratic processes, and should be seen as the diverse group that we are.
The inclusion of youth with various experiences and diverse backgrounds, along with youth being given the power to influence, are central actions when aiming for a flourishing democracy. Youth needs to be included within all parts of the democratic processes, and should be seen as the diverse group that we are. Perspectives from youth in socioeconomic vulnerable situations, with experience from migration and with various gender identities, to name a few, often get excluded from the democratic dialogue. The perception of these youth need to be transitioned from being viewed as part of marginalized and homogenous groups, to the vital asset they are and thus being put in the centre of decision making. Decision makers have the democratic liability to take diverse youth perspectives into account. Not only since it is a necessity when building the democratic climate youth urge for, but also in order to successfully make the transition towards an inclusive Swedish democracy.
Article 12 and 13 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, expresses that States Parties shall assure that all children have the right and opportunity to express their views and opinions freely. To exclude such a large number of Swedish citizens, as children and youth are, from being part of and influencing the democratic processes should be seen as nothing less than a democratic failure. Therefore, the youth need to not only be handed a seat at the table, but also seen as the considerable asset that we are to the democratic process. Youth represents a diversity of young voices, and we now urge to be given the power to influence. Because no one will be more affected by the future that lies before us, than those who will live through it. We, the youth.