Since 2020, we have carried out various activities for the recognition of young people’s rights, acceptance of their status as subjects and democratic participation. We have listened to and reported on the problems of young people through focus group studies, created spaces of interaction between politics and youth, conducted media campaigns to ensure that the demands and problems of youth are heard, produced effective/relevant youth policies and carried out lobbying activities, and held meetings with young parliamentary candidates, CSO representatives, academics and young press members to increase the youth representation in the national parliament. While the Arayuz Campaign was conducting all these activities, the 2023 General Elections took place and the number of young MPs in the TBMM, which had eight MPs between the ages of 18-30 in the 27th Term, dropped to 5 in the 28th Term. During the general election period, the political parties and actors who distributed promises to get votes from the youth showed that they were insincere in their statements about youth.

This year, which was filled with activities and projects for the Arayuz Campaign but ended with a great disappointment in terms of youth representation in the general elections, did not make us resent our struggle. On the contrary, it proved how right we are in our mission and that young people should have more of a say. Accordingly, as we plan the coming year and our activities, we continue with updated goals and projects. We continue to work with the dream of a free, fair, democratic and accessible politics where young people can exist with their differences, become subjects and empowered.

Strategic Goals and Activities

Our main project that we will carry out in the upcoming period in order to ensure a Turkey where young people’s participation in general, local and civil politics increases is our “Program for Increasing Youth Participation in Local Governments”. In our country, where nearly 17 million young people live, fulfilling the demands and needs of young people, expanding democratic participation and developing a sense of common life are very important for ensuring democracy. In this direction, the representation of multi-vocal youth from different backgrounds in local governments stands out as one of the basic steps of participation. Local municipal councils are one of the institutions where young people living with poverty, unemployment, inflation, precarity and insecurity can directly participate and have the fastest impact. In this direction, we are launching a program where we support young people who want to become municipal council members so that young people can make their problems heard, exercise their fundamental right to participate, and then be involved in solution mechanisms. At the end of this program, where young people participating in the program will exchange information with experts, find networking opportunities and receive campaigning support, a series of focus group discussions and a research report “Youth Representation in Local Government in Turkey: Obstacles and Experiences” will be prepared in order to share the experiences. When participation is considered on a large scale, we are launching a pilot project to identify the means of participation in local governance in the region where a young person lives and to ensure the dissemination of these tools. In 2024, we will pilot the project with selected municipalities, and with the “Inclusive Municipality Scorecard”, we will examine local governments in the context of youth participation, report on possible participation tools, and develop recommendations and policies with young people from those regions for municipalities to develop more inclusive and participatory methods. In addition, we will create a map of the youth in Turkey, being aware of the fact that contrary to popular belief, youth does not consist of a single type of group. Through surveys and focus group discussions, we will listen to different youth groups living in Turkey who are differentiated by their economic, social, ethnic, cultural, political and other labels, and share their problems and experiences. Our aim with the “Mapping the Youth of Turkey” project is to better understand the youth with different concerns, problems, demands, backgrounds and lives, and to provide data/evidence-based information for institutions to produce effective/relevant policies.

One of the steps that must be taken to increase participation in civil society and politics is to raise the democratic consciousness of young people. In 2022, we started organizing “Youth Matters” meetings, which we will continue in the coming period within the framework of local participation. In these meetings, we bring together political actors and youth and create a free discussion environment in a safe and neutral space. We create room for young people to voice their problems and seek answers to their questions. Considering that institutions and mechanisms are not always traceable and transparent, and that participation methods for individuals are not known, we aim to make the tools and methods of participation accessible and transparent for young people with the “Tools for Participation at the Local Level” information note. In order to draw a picture of local representation in the current situation, we will prepare the “Youth Representation at the Local Level” statistical report. By examining provincial and district municipalities all over Turkey, we will reveal how inadequate the representation is in relation to the population with this report, from which we have drawn the statistics of the 2018 elections.

As an all-youth team, we experience all the same concerns and problems that our peers do. We know that we can overcome the feeling of not having a say in our lives and our need for democracy by working and ensuring that more young people demand democracy. As those who will live the future, we can actually have our say today by standing together, voicing our common wishes and needs, and claiming our rights and freedoms.

To a free, fair and democratic future!

Arayuz Campaign

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