Encouraging youth voters
The third debate of the “I.P.P.W.S Roundtable on Women in Politics” sponsored by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P) will be broadcast tonight at 8:45pm on TV3.
The TV show will give the audience an overview of youth engagement in the electoral process while the first two roundtables discussed the participation of women candidates and media representatives.
The panellists of the third discussion hosted by the Centre for Samoan Studies were Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio - Acting Electoral Commissioner (O.E.C) - Mema Motusaga – Researcher , Kaisarina Salesa and Tuala Victor Va’auli - Programme Coordinators of the Samoa National Youth Council (S.N.Y.C).
Speaking with Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, he said: “Youths participation in the general elections is important for the way forward for our country.
“I mean, the majority of our population probably lies in the youth age group so the decision making processes at the national level will have a huge impact on them.
“So if they don’t register and vote, they won’t have that opportunity to address how those issues should be addressed by our political leaders in terms of designing laws and policies that will ensure that will reflect youths interest.”
Leasiolagi Dr. Meleisea Malama Meleisea, Director of CSS and facilitator of the roundtable discussion, also highlighted that: “Panellists agreed that the low registration of young people is very serious concern. Figures made us think young people feel isolated and unengaged in the political dialogue and process.
A lot more work needs to target youth and make them feel excited to be voters and their opinions and vote count. Existing institutions at village, government and the private sector should foster young people’s participation in their places of work, schools, churches and villages councils.”
Ms. Kaisarina Salesa, of the Samoa National Youth Council pointed out: “Registered youth are encouraged to vote in the upcoming general elections without fear of reprisals from their families or church affiliations.
The right to vote is an important right as it is a time where youth are able to actively have a say on who should be in Government. Given the massive awareness campaigns issued by the Office of the Electoral Commission, S.N.Y.C through its Village Youth Representatives have reminded and emphasized to its members that come the general elections, they will be part of a national decision making process by choosing to vote of their own free will on who should represent them and their village at the parliament level”.
The fourth and last roundtable, a Post-election analysis, will be broadcast after March 4th.
The roundtables are part of the Increased Political Participation of Women in Samoa (I.P.P.W.S), a joint programme between UN Women and U.N.D.P, in partnership with the Government of Samoa and the Australian Government.