Democracy. One word, several meanings. Everyone’s individual take on democracy varies in some way or another. Has anyone ever stopped to ask what it means to you as a young person? Has anyone ever discussed what a democracy is with you? Don’t worry if you’re sat down reading this and answering “no” in your head to the last two questions. You’ll more likely than not find that most other young people are in the same boat as you.
So let’s change that. Let’s talk about what democracy is, and how it affects you.

According to the dictionary, a democracy is “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.” So, why is this important to you? The decisions that are being voted on and carried out within your country’s democracy will affect you and your future. The perfect examples of matters that we as young people could not vote on, but will be affected by are Brexit and University Tuition Fees. These are only two of the many examples out there to demonstrate the importance of a democracy and how it affects young people. Even though young people may not have the vote, there are still a number of ways in which we are able to express our political and social views and be heard.

There are countless ways for young individuals like yourself to voice the issues that matter most to you. The most prominent way being social media. All it takes is one message, one post or one picture and you are able to express your views to over 3.5 billion people in a matter of seconds. Social media has empowered young people, allowing them to talk freely about topics to like-minded people all over the world. Another impressive way in which young people exhibit their strong political views is through protests. From the school walkouts in 2003 in regards to the Iraq War to the sixth form students who joined the protest against student fees in 2011, it is evident that young people, students especially, have been actively expressing their opinions. An impressive protest took place earlier this year in March against climate change. During this protest, a group of 20 students gathered together to make their way to Westminster to protest and were even joined by their teacher who showed her full support for her students.

Join the rest of your peers by actively expressing your opinion through an essay competition, “Democracy and Me”, organised by the IARS International Institute. The competition is a mark of celebration for the commencement of European Youth Week This competition prompts you to express your views in on what you think is “the biggest challenge facing young people in Europe in 2019 as well as what steps can be taken by young people to proactively resolve these issues on both a community and national level.” Step up to the challenge and voice your opinion today.

For more information about the competition “Democracy and Me” visit: http://iars.org.uk/content/european-youth-week-essay-competition-–-share-your-thoughts-win-prize

Written by our work experience students Mandeep Sehdev and Vallika Patel