Future leaders of the EU
Last updated on Tuesday, 11/01/2022
The COVID pandemic has disproportionately affected young people forcing many of us to put our lives, hopes and dreams on hold.
The COVID pandemic has disproportionately affected young people forcing many of us to put our lives, hopes and dreams on hold. It has disrupted every facet of our lives, from our education to our mental and physical well-being. While also navigating our way through the obstacles of life, we have had to learn to grow up in the “new normal”. But one of our greatest challenges has come from the commentators who have chosen to question our commitment to the collective effort and dismiss our sacrifices. Throughout the pandemic, we have been the scapegoat for many. The media and those with platforms have vilified us, labelling our generation as “careless” and “reckless” while accusing us of being the cause of rising case numbers. We have been a frequent target for many and are often given little or no opportunity to defend ourselves.
In spite of it all, we have persevered. We have proved the naysayers and begrudgers wrong. We have queued for our vaccines and worn our masks with conviction, determined to navigate our way through this, determined to be leaders in the fight against COVID. What we have learned about the world around us will never be forgotten. To recover and become stronger, we know that we need to stand up and be heard; we know we need representation and inclusion in decision-making at the highest level. The pandemic has proven that despite us being twenty-five per cent of the European population, we have too often been left looking on from the outside. But we will no longer accept anything less than fair representation; we know we deserve nothing less than the best.
From climate change to social inclusion and from digital transformation to the future of work, we are all too aware of the challenges facing us in the future. The efforts of Fridays for Future and the increasing number of youth-led movements have shown young people’s commitment to securing a better and brighter future for us all. Even when we may have felt powerless, we have passionately worked together to create impactful waves of change. More than ever, we have proven that we have a voice that wants to be heard, a voice that needs to be heard.
As a generation, we are the first not to improve on the previous one in terms of wealth, income and future prospects (Eurofound, 2021). The impact on job losses, mental health and education are far-reaching and will continue to impact us long into the future. As we enter into a year that will honour youth, we must seize the chance to promote ourselves and our opinions. Our decision-makers and policy shapers need to engage with our generation fully, and we need to work together and learn from each other. As one of the most connected generations in history, we have the real power to influence change at our fingertips. In the true spirit of the European project, we must continually challenge ourselves.
References: Eurofound (2021) Impact of COVID-19 on young people in the EU, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg
Harry is a 23 years old Irish award-winning entrepreneur and journalist working to empower youth across the globe. He is the founder of the first Digital Youth Council, a not-for-profit organisation that works to give young people a voice in STEM and education, and ambassador for the #SaferInternet4EU campaign launched by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Politic Communications at Dublin City University (DCU).
This article reflects the views of the author only. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for it.