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UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake: “The youth can be a force for democracy”

“In Sri Lanka young people were not invited to be a part of serious political conversations. This is what we wanted to change with our project ‘Sri Lankan Youth for Democracy’. We brought together 16 youth politicians from different parties to discuss potential solutions for ethnic disputes and came out of the project with a changed culture of dialogue”, said UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake recalling her past cooperation with Demo Finland. Ms. Wickramanayake spoke at the “Youth 2030 – Youth as a resource for democracy” -event organized in Helsinki 26.4.2018.

UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake (right) and Demo Finland Executive Director Anu Juvonen met at the  UNA Finland #Youth2030 -event in Helsinki.

Coming from a meeting with young Finnish parliamentarians, she noted how extraordinary it is that Finland has such young people also as heads of political parties. She emphasized that young people have the capacity to be a strong force for democracy if they are ensured meaningful participation in decision making.

“We are the largest generation in history, and the most connected. We can be agents of change and Finland is an excellent example of that. I am over the moon about you becoming the first country to launch a national plan on Resolution 2250 (Youth, Peace and Security) – something that only happened because the youth rallied around the cause and made it happen”, she commented.

Demo Finland’s Executive Director Anu Juvonen was also invited to give her remarks at the event. She was very much aligned with Ms. Wickramanayake, stating that the youth are the change-makers and reformists, and underlined that it is essential to include youth from different backgrounds in decision making.

Delighted to meet Ms. Wickramanayake, she also spoke about Demo Finland’s success in Sri Lanka and how political parties play a key role in peace building and peace negotiations. She also pointed out, that inclusion of women and youth, Demo Finland’s core values, leads to sustainable peace and that peace – and democracy – begins with dialogue.

Read more about our work in Sri Lanka as well as our other youth-centered projects.

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