The Malta Independent 26 September 2021, Sunday

Leaders of today

Carmelo Abela Sunday, 1 August 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Recently in a discussion with my counterparts at the European Council I highlighted how I don't see youths just as a promise of a better future to come but indeed as major players in the current arenas of public and political life.

Indeed, for us Maltese and for the current Government, youths are a major player - today.

As a political movement over the last 13 years we have proved this in practice - as we have trusted in youths for Ministerial positions but also at the helm of a number of important departments, diplomatic positions and taskforces. As a Labour party activist I am also proud to see youths leading our party today as evidenced by the speeches delivered by President Ramona Attard, Deputy Leader Daniel Micallef and Prime Minister Abela - last week in our Annual General Meeting. Speeches dotted with grit, realism and ambition for the future.

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This Government has also not shied away from discussing issues that are important to our youths: from civil rights to IVF, from a more mature approach to the use of cannabis to the lowering of the voting age.

However, I believe that more needs to be done. At home my two children help me greatly to get further exposure to their everyday challenges within a segment of society that sometimes feel remote to us adults. Thankfully my love for sports and the cultural jewels that are our local festas also keep me close to our youths. Yet I believe we as a society, myself included, need to do more to lend an ear to their perspective.

With the help of my team at the Ministry, a couple of days ago we took a deep dive into the youth perspective. With senior members of the authorities under my portfolio: SEM, DIER and PBS I answered questions and curiosities from scores of young people. We named the event: 'Youth Opinions Matter'. It was a refreshing exercise which we intend to repeat in the near future.

Some ideas that were presented lingered on in my mind and I look forward to discussing them with my fellow Ministers and even within the Labour Party as we advance our 100 IDEA policy discussion in preparation for the next Electoral manifesto. I was also struck by the input of differently abled youths - bolstering my resolve to make national entities, like PBS for example, ever more accessible to this cohort.

There is definitely a lot of work to be done to encourage more youths to participate in public life and for us a society to address their issues. I close however with a message to youths that are reading this piece. Yes, you are indeed our future leaders but our country needs you as from today, we trust your judgement and perspective - get involved and lead.

Carmelo Abela is a minister within the Office of the Prime Minister


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