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Brent Housing Partnership Youth Blog

Brought to you by the'Our Say' Magazine Team and BHP Youth Board

Month

May 2015

Should 16 year-olds be allowed to vote?

In recent elections the number of people voting has been in decline. Can we attract more people to vote by lowering the voting age to 16?

Is allowing 16 year-olds the chance to vote a good idea or are young people just too immature when it comes to politics? I have looked at both sides of the argument:

Advantages

    • 16 year-olds are mature enough to make important decisions such as voting. They have been in education for at least 10 years, and most of them have some experience of work as well as school. All this allows them to form political views and they should be allowed to put these across at election time.
    • 16 year-olds already have other rights. For example, in many countries they have the right to leave school and leave home, and the right to marry and have children. It is not reasonable to have different ages for different rights.
    • It is unfair to have taxation without representation. Many 16 year-olds work and pay tax on their earnings. At present they are not allowed to have a say in how the government spends their money, nor in how much should be collected from them in taxes.

Disadvantages

  • 16 year-olds are not mature enough. The large majority still live at home and go to school. By 18 they have become much more independent and are able to make their own way in the world.
  • It makes sense for different rights to be gained at different times as young people mature and get used to more responsibility.
  • Governments do things which affect every age group but that does not mean everyone deserves the vote. And there are other ways for young people to have a say – they can write to elected representatives and newspapers, sign petitions, speak at public meetings and join youth parliaments.

It is important to note that 16 year-olds have already been giving the chance to vote in some political matters such as Scottish Referendum. There was a good turnout from this age group and they showed that they took this issue very seriously.

Finally no matter what age, it is crucial we all register to vote as the government has a huge impact on our daily lives.

By Saif Ramzan, 17

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Gender inequality in parliament

Gender inequality is a perplexing problem that has only recently gained the spotlight and it deserves to be highlighted as a major concern. It remains a major barrier to human development and arises from differences in socially constructed gender roles…so is it that the character of a politician seems to be suited to men? And is this statement actually true? NO! It is not true at all.

Parliament is designed to represent the public, unfortunately it does not seems to be representative as it is only made up of 23% females; leaving the rest of the seats to be filled by males. If 51% of the UK population are women which is not reflective of parliament, it means policies, rules and decisions that are made aren’t thoughtful of women’s opinions.

The UK is heading down the gender equality league table: it went from 9th in the world to 26th adding to this general issue it has increasingly floating from 12th to 33rd in political empowerment.

The culture of politics can be so off putting for women. How can we overcome this issue? We need to encourage political participation and representation of women particularly from a young age. Organisations, such as The Emily Tree Project have been doing just this; they give girls the opportunity to campaign and get work experience with their local MP.

By Munira Devey, 16

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