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Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Changing the world one word at a time

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Global Bits - Issue 16 (24 Pages)

Global Education Centre

cover-art-issue-161This Global Bits offers readers a chance to look inside the heads of our future leaders – and to understand the issues and passions that drive them. Open to all 12-18 year olds, 10 young people were picked for this programme for the first time in 2008. In this issue these creative and savvy new authors relate history to global politics. They unravel subjects such as international guidelines for human rights the difference between actual and relative poverty, and just how democracy works.

Watch this space for our new group in 2009!

Download PDF 5.44MB

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Are you ready? Stand up and be counted!

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

By Hannah Robson

megaphoneHere in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond, we have strong opinions and are becoming more knowledgeable about politics, showing that we do indeed care. As the future generation, we are exercising our democratic rights and breaking out — trying to be heard!

People power
In the dictionary, democracy is “a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” In the words of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Did you know that young people make up nearly half of the entire population of the world? So WE are “the people” and WE have the power to make change globally.

In democracies like NZ our key democratic right is to elect our government - majority rules. Our voting age is 18, but around the world different countries have different voting ages.

  • Austria 16
  • Sudan 17
  • Japan 20
  • Uzbekistan 25

Taking a stand
FrigateYoung New Zealanders are becoming more politically aware. This could be because as a country we are known for not following the crowd on certain issues — we create strong opinions, and can usually back them up. Like the nuclear energy debate — although it is environmentally viable, New Zealand has maintained its nuclear free stance and is protecting the people from the potentially dangerous consequences. The New Zealand government has remained staunch on this issue, even under pressure from other nations, such as the USA, Australia and Britain. But young people have also realised that we can’t always wait for the government to lead the way. We have to stand up for what we believe in — we have to make changes, because in a lot of cases, the politicians have ignored the major issues.

Why now?
It is us, the young, who are going to be directly affected by such issues as global warming in the coming decades, so we need to make a stand now, for the future generations. Groups set up by young people all over the world are making that stand. KidsCall, has been touring the globe gathering messages from young people about the environment and climate change They will be presenting the hopes and demands of young people to the world’s leading politicians at the G8 meeting in Japan in July 2008. Others are taking action locally. EcoWatch in Uganda, set up by young women, works with students to raise awareness of the threat of climate change and to empower people to live in an environmentally sustainable way.

Youth can swing elections
young-obama-supportersWhether it’s as voters or as activists, young people do have power. The youth vote was seen as the all important swing vote in the American Democratic Presidential candidate election, which favoured Barack Obama. Young people in the US are inspired by his message of change and feel he reflects a new generation (their generation!) and new thinking. And he takes young people seriously, speaking to them directly and encouraging them to get involved. Young people came out in huge numbers in the primary elections and showed they are a force to be reckoned with.

In Pakistan, students played a crucial role in pushing for governmental change — for democracy — even with the risk of arrest and other punishments. Their protests helped keep international attention on the issue, and although they may still be waiting for true democratic change, the students’ actions have awakened many Pakistani youth to the potential of their own power.

On the frontline
Young people want change; it’s in our nature. From women’s rights to civil rights, young people have been on the frontline, campaigning for their cause. Youth have never been the kind to sit back and just let things happen. Even the Prime Minister was young once — just like us! Yes — even Helen Clark was out protesting against New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam war back in the 1970s. But we need to remember that beliefs do change over time and we need to remind our politicians what it is like to be young. We need to make our voices heard.

myspace-maoriPoliticians seem to be realising the power of youth and are trying to become more “in touch” with us, using technology. In the upcoming elections in New Zealand and the USA, politicians are reaching out to young people via the internet, posting videos on YouTube and creating Bebo and MySpace pages. So, if they are taking us seriously, we should take ourselves seriously too. We have to actively participate in making a change — not just talk about it!

Are you ready to stand up and be counted?


  • Take a chance — run for your student council. Or, if you want your thoughts and ideas to be heard by national decision makers, join the Provoke Network at www.myd.govt.nz/ayv/provoke/
  • Become a youth member of a political party
  • Join a local student organisation or CREATE YOUR OWN! You want to change something? Research it, discuss it with others (be prepared for some debate!) and work to make the change
  • Get involved with the World Youth Movement for Democracy www.ymd.youthlink.org
  • Signup with the Just Focus network or join the discussions in the forum www.justfocus.org.nz


Find out about student activists around the world at http://studentresistance.wordpress.com
Download the Do-It-Yourself guide to youth activism at www.ywca.org.nz
Do you want to write to a politician, or organise a petition or a campaign? Check out the Take Action guides from the Ministry of Youth Development www.myd.govt.nz

    This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.

    The gossipy side of world politics

    Monday, August 14th, 2006

    One Big Soap Opera: An Appreciation for the Gossipy Side of World Politics
    Jayran Mansouri world map with people

    World politics. For my friends, the mere mention of the word conjures up images of old people sitting around an official-looking table with pieces of paper, discussing completely random things in what seems to be a foreign language.

    As a 13-year-old politics enthusiast, I feel the need to explain what draws my interest to what at first glance seems like the reserve of important-looking geriatrics.

    Whenever people ask me what I find so interesting about politics, I have to say, “It’s like one big soap opera”

    Politics is, indeed, “The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity, the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals”, (Online Dictionary) but it is also rife with scandals, rumors, rivalry and the whole “who said what to who about whom” element that lends it to the drama reminiscent of a soap opera.

    Take, for instance, US President George W Bush’s recent use of the S-Word’ at a private luncheon. “See the irony is that what they [the United Nations need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this (s-word) and it’s over,” Bush said to Tony Blair. What he didn’t know was that the microphone was on, and everything he said could be picked up. I might also add he was chewing in a most unbecoming manner.

    Or what about Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who is currently in hospital after contracting a tropical disease in Malaysia while at the ASEAN Regional Forum?

    news pressOr the infamous “Dick Cheney Hunting Incident”? US Vice President Dick Cheney was out hunting for quails with Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old lawyer, when he accidentally shot Whittington! Since then, people have speculated on whether or not it was really an accident.

    Was George Bush really democratically elected? Why did Winston Peters re-ignite the controversy of his trip to Washington, ignoring Helen Clark’s call for him to end his media feud? And who will be the next nuclear state? These questions constitute political folklore.

    My point is, once you get past the whole boring-old-people-discussing-boring-old-things idea, politics has a gossipy, soap opera element that endears it to so many young people like myself.