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A St. Lucian activist is urging Vincentian young people to vote in the upcoming general elections, saying it is one of the times when they truly have power.
“… the only time that you may have your power is election time. Do not waste that opportunity. It is the opportunity that will change your life,” human and gender rights advocate Felicia Browne said Saturday in Langley Park at a rally organised by the main opposition New Democratic Party.
The rally was held to launch NDP candidate for North Windward, Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste’s “Youth Empowerment Programme” for the constituency.
General elections are constitutionally due in March 2016 but Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said Vincentians will go to the polls before year-end.
Browne noted that the right to vote is constitutional.
“It is your human right to make the changes,” said Browne, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of the West Indies.
“Nobody can tell you who to vote for. It is your right,” she said.
She said young persons should be able to identify the candidate that will make a difference in your lives.
“You should be able to know that it is your right to make those kinds of decisions on your own,” she said, noting that such decisions impact on the future of young people.
Browne said that young people should take along writing material to political meetings to note the policies and programmes that are being proposed for them and their communities.
She said the theme of the event, “Restoring Pride towards Youth Leadership”, seeks to encourage young people to create a better future for themselves.
“Restoring pride does not assume hegemony over others, nor to look down at the troubles of others … And so we have to ensure that human rights are respected regardless of what society we live in.”
She said young people should take politicians to task when they engaged in immoral acts, violate young people, and victimise young people.
“We have to encourage our young people, to teach them, that they have the power and ability to change their lives. They have the ability to change the communities,” she said.
She said youth leadership is critical for the advancement of human development.
“In our Caribbean, our youth are not immune to the global ills that continue to affect their daily lives … Every day, they are faced with increasing corruption, crime, unemployment, and most of all, poverty. Youth leadership is a grave concern to our societies, not only due to its impact on our social and economic development but also the moral fabric of our society.”
She said the rights of young persons should be upheld as natural and constitutional rights.
Too often young people are provided with short-lived programmes “and this, in itself, leave a sense of insecurities and uncertainty for their fragile lives,” Browne said.
“I’m appealing to you that we, as the elders, have the responsibility to ensure that we create better lives for our children and our youth,” Browne said.