Campaign aims to get more young women involved in politics – Megan Maclean
Voting in elections is very important because it means that everyone’s voice can be heard. Every vote counts in an election. But young people, especially young women, are less likely to vote, which means their opinions and views are not always represented. Girlguiding Scotland’s Girls in Scotland 2020 report found that 62% of girls and young women believe young people should have more opportunities to get involved in politics. This is why we have encouraged the members of Girlguiding Scotland to use their vote on May 6th, but there is still work to be done. In the same study, 60% of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 believe that more needs to be done to make politics equal for men and women. As the Champion of Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out, I am passionate about making this change a reality.
To celebrate Vote 100 and the Year of Youth 2018, we’ve launched a new campaign and interactive resource – Citizen Girl. This resource allows girls to discover why their voice matters and how they can effect change, learn about the political process, representation and equality with fun and practical challenges like building their own edible parliament, creating their own superheroes and holding their own Citizen Girl. Summits. We encourage girls and young women to see themselves as leaders and empower them to take action on issues that matter to them. It is especially important that young women use their vote so that they can have a say in issues that impact their lives and futures. By voting in an election, changes can be made and an inclusive agenda can be achieved.
Voting for the first time in an election can seem very disheartening, but it is also very stimulating. It can seem difficult to make an informed decision about a candidate or political party, and many young people may also feel pressured to vote for those whom their parents, guardians or friends vote for. It is also quite normal not to know who to vote for. Just because your friends and family know who they will be voting for doesn’t mean you have to rush to pick a party to vote for or pick a party that is “most popular”. We want all young people to know that their vote is their decision and that it does not need to be shared.
There are many ways for young people to get more information when thinking about who they want to represent them. Reading the manifestos of different political parties, watching televised debates, and flipping through the campaign brochures that pass through your door are all great ways to educate yourself on a candidate’s key issues. Many political candidates also have an online presence, so it’s a good idea to find them on social media and see how they present themselves. Not all political parties share the same views and beliefs, so it’s important to vote for a party that can help create a better future for you and your community.
My message to young people this election? I feel so empowered to be able to vote and to be able to elect who I think represents my values and my beliefs. Voting means that I have an impact on the decisions made in my region and in the community at large, I hope to create change for the better. Voting is not about winners or losers – it’s about making sure everyone’s voice is heard and that our Parliament reflects that as much as possible.
Megan Maclean, Girlguiding Scotland Speak Out champion