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Cut voting age to 16 to address youth issues, says EU

NAIROBI
By Graham Kajilwa and Anyango Otieno | November 14th 2019

The European Commission has suggested lowering the voting age to 16 as one of the ways to ensure youth issues get represented in governments.

The proposal, presented at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that ends today, was greeted with cheers. The session brought together youth and sexual rights advocacy groups.

Henriette Geiger, the director-general at the International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission (DG DEVCO), said although it will not be an easy task, the move will make a difference in terms of access to sexual reproductive health.

“We were debating in parliament and an interesting proposal of reducing the voting age came up,” she said.

She described the proposal as interesting, saying that politicians are extremely responsive to polls.

“If you reduce the voting age from 21 or 18 to 16 years, that would make a huge difference in public policy worldwide,” she said. 

The European Union (EU) is among the bodies that strongly advocate for the representation of all persons, and has funded key initiatives, including Kenya’s film project, Rafiki, which speaks on accepting people with different sexual orientation.

Mavis Naa Korley Aryee, a radio host from Ghana, said many girls have become mothers and child brides because their sexual reproductive health meant nothing to others.

Ms Aryee said sexual reproductive health and rights should be at the top of the list of issues that require action.

During the session, Ms Geiger announced that the EU has a Sh56.2 billion fund to finance initiatives to end violence against women and girls worldwide.

“A lot of money is invested, but we have to make sure it is invested well,” she said.

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