MGG considers the Vote 16 initiative to be a positive step towards a more inclusive and political system. We call on young women to go to the ballot boxes whenever they are given the chance.
The Government of Malta announced that it is going to present a White Paper by mid-March 2018, giving the opportunity to young people, aged 16 and 17 to vote in the upcoming General Elections and the Elections for the European Parliament.
The main arguments in favour of the Vote 16 campaign in Malta was that this would boost the involvement of younger people in politics – both as part of the electorate and as contestants to elections. Evidently, potential political activists stand a better chance to be captured at an earlier age.
The programme of the Malta Girl Guides (MGG) gives high priority to active citizenship and women empowerment. Sessions on active citizenship aimed for our young leaders stimulate critical thinking and discussions on how they can be involved more in shaping their future at community level. The energy invested in these discussions by the 16 and 17-year olds shows that young people are willing and well-equipped to engage in political discussions.
As the situation stands right now, the early school dropouts who are not involved in an NGO risk not being involved in a discussion of political interest for years before they go to the polling booths, hence they are more likely to lose interest in the local and national political issues, let alone European ones, resulting in less voting turnout. Studies show that being given the right to vote at a younger age, it is more likely to maintain the habit of voting throughout their lives. Having said that, let’s not ignore the fact that many 16 and 17 year olds would have already entered the labour market, are paying taxes, are married and/or are raising a family and are therefore heavily affected by major government decisions.
Given that voting is a democratic right, enshrined in our Constitution, MGG would take the opportunity to call on young women to go to the ballot boxes whenever they are given the chance. In addition, MGG remarks that it is high time that on national level, the gap in women’s political representation is narrowed and more women run for office and put women rights on top of their agenda.
MGG considers the Vote 16 initiative to be a positive step towards a more inclusive political system.