Young people deserve to #BeSeenBeHeard
The Body Shop and the European Youth Forum launch a petition calling on all European governments and the European Parliament to lower the voting age to 16 for all local, regional, national and European elections.
Young people deserve a say because their opinions matter when it comes to our planet, our societies, and our democracy. Millions of young people are missing from public life. With the climate crisis, global conflict and generational inequalities running rampant, the experiences, perspectives and representation of young people are needed more than ever.
Almost half the world’s population is under 30. Yet, they make up only 2.6% of parliamentarians around the world from which less than 1% are women. The average age of an EU parliamentarian is 50, which is only slightly younger than the global average of a world leader at 62. The European Youth Forum found out that the number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) younger than 30 is equal to the number of parliamentarians named Martin - six each.
Young people are the most under-represented age group in the European Parliament. The Body Shop’s Global Youth Survey found that 62% of Europeans believe that greater representation of young people in public office would improve our political systems. Europeans are overwhelmingly in favour of youth participation. 82% of Europeans surveyed believe that 16-18 is the most appropriate age for first time voting.
Across Europe, some 16 and 17 year olds can already vote. Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Malta and Switzerland have opened some elections to young people because their voices matter. But rules from the past exclude 16 and 17 year olds in other countries from voting. Yet the future belongs to all of us. Let’s shape it together.
Managing Director Europe, North America & Australia and New Zealand of The Body Shop Caroline Le Roch says: “This is a critical moment for democracy. Young people deserve a voice in the European Parliament and beyond. The Body Shop has the opportunity to leverage our power as a global business to mobilise our consumers, influence politicians and apply pressure to the real decision-makers alongside our campaign partner European Youth Forum to make sure young Europeans have their voices heard.”
Lauren Mason, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the European Youth Forum says: “At 16 young people are already making significant life decisions, actively contributing to society, and demonstrating keen awareness of current issues. Even without the possibility to vote, they are finding meaningful ways to advocate for the causes they care about and bring positive change. Granting them the right to vote not only encourages their participation in politics, but also strengthens our democratic processes. With the upcoming European elections in July 2024, voting at 16 should be at the forefront of our political discussions.”
Notes to Editors
- The Inter-Parliamentary Union found that only 2.6% of the world’s MPs are aged under 30. The key findings presented in IPU’s 2021 report are available here.
- An analysis from the European Youth Forum, released on International Day of Democracy 2022, found that the number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) younger than 30 is equal to the number of parliamentarians named Martin - six each.
- The Be Seen Be Heard Global Youth Survey was conducted in December 2021 by Dynata. This large-scale qualitative and quantitative research surveyed 27,043 people across multiple age ranges, including 14,160 between the ages of 15 and 30, across 26 countries. To ensure high confidence levels and representativeness of findings, participant samples included quotas on age, gender, region and income. The survey additionally ensured a good spread of global geography, with 59% of the world population covered in the sample.
- The petition by The Body Shop and the European Youth Forum is part of the global ‘Be Seen, Be Heard’ campaign launched by The Body Shop and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in May 2022. The campaign, run in 2,600 stores, in over 75 countries, across six continents, calls for more young voices in the halls of power.
About The Body Shop
The Body Shop is an activist business. It has created direct change through new legislative action or policy changes in over 24 countries since 1990. It has a dedicated activism team in every country in which it operates dedicated to identifying the issues that will best further its goals of environmental and social justice. In its latest campaign, Be Seen Be Heard The Body Shop will be campaigning alongside The Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy to amplify youth voices in public life.
About the European Youth Forum
The European Youth Forum is the biggest platform of youth organisations in Europe, representing over 100 youth organisations, which bring together tens of millions of young people from all over Europe. The European Youth Forum works to empower young people to participate actively in society to improve their own lives and advocates for their rights. The Youth Forum promotes youth participation, making young people catalysts for positive change and contributors of innovative solutions to Europe’s challenges.
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