Alysha Bodman (Y12)
On Friday the 13th November, I joined almost 300 elected Members of Youth Parliament at a national, televised debate in the House of Commons to decide the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaigns for 2016.
I was selected to represent the South West to deliver a speech about the relevance of the Magna Carta at the despatch box. A topic I am extremely passionate about is Feminism and Gender Equality and therefore I focused on this in my speech. I highlighted how far we have come as a society in terms of gender equality since 1215 but how far we still have to go. In addition, I questioned how we can feel represented in our parliament when only 29% of all MPs are female and this received applause, showing that this resounded with the chamber and they also hoped for a more diverse Parliament in the future. Moreover, I received a standing ovation at the end!
Although I was apprehensive to be speaking in such a prestigious place, I managed to use these nerves to my advantage and deliver a passionate and emotive speech. It is a topic that I believe is very relevant so I am very glad that I was able to highlight the unrepresentative Parliament we have in terms of gender. Hopefully, we can work towards a 50:50 parliament in the future!
In the main debates; working together to combat racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim and Jewish was chosen as the issue for the national campaign for 2015 and mental health was chosen as the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaign for England. It is interesting to note that within Pates, when I held the Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ consultation, Mental Health received roughly 12.8% of the total vote and the Racism and Religious Discrimination motion received 8.4%.
These motions were two of five debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons chamber, during a session chaired by Speaker of the House of Commons the Rt Hon John Bercow MP.
Personally, I am extremely happy about the new chosen campaign topics. It’s important that we can continue to work on removing the stigma of mental health and start working towards making our society more accepting as these are important for young people all over the UK. I believe that this sitting marked the importance of youth voice all over the country, and proves that young people are enthusiastic about achieving social change. We are not an apathetic generation.