Timor-Leste's Youth Parliament keeps the youth agenda alive
By Jairus Ligoo
10 August 2011, Dili, Timor-Leste - For a young country with a rapidly growing youth population, and witnessing the global influences of young people, there could never be a better time to sustain a positive youth agenda than now.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony Mr Baba Danbappa UNICEF acting Representative in Timor-Leste impressed on the youth to seize the opportunity and sustain the dialogue with their leaders. “The need to build young peoples’ leadership skills and to ensure they contribute positively to nation building cannot be understated” said Mr Danbappa as he made his remarks.
The 130 Youth Parliamentarians converged at the Ministry of foreign affairs offices in Dili flanked by the Secretary State for Youth and Sports Mr Miguel Manetelu and Vice Prime Minister Mr Jose Luis Guterres who in turn encouraged the youth to ensure they represent issues affecting young people from their respective districts.
Prior to their second seating, the Youth Parliamentarians participated in a week long leadership training and held briefing sessions with selected government ministries such as Ministry of Education, Health, Infrastructure and Secretary State for gender and equality.
“I’m happy to be chairing this opening session, It shows that girls too can lead” said Ms Otilia Manuela, 17, president of the second seating. Timor-Leste’s youth parliament has successfully mobilised the participation of girls, an indication that proper design of youth participation platforms can attract, retain girls and develop their leadership skills.
“Today we have shown that we are contributing positively to the development of our country” added Xavier Pereira, 16.
At the end of the seating, a set of recommendations were proposed and presented to the Secretary State for Youth and Sports. The parliamentarians’ proposals will be formally presented and discuss the proposals with the prime minister.
The second session was witnessed by youth representatives, development organisations and covered in Timor-Leste’s national media.
Timor-Leste’s Youth Parliament is based on a council of ministers resolution that endorses its establishment, making it a unique institutionalised national youth participation platform.
The 130 youth parliamentarians were identified from a rigorous community selection process across the entire country and are representing their communities for a period of two years.
The Youth Parliament is supported by the Secretary of State for Youth and Sports and UNICEF.
For more information please contact
Jairus Ligoo, Adolescent and Youth Participation Specialist, UNICEF Timor-Leste