Young Leader Perspective: Sabina Acharya
Young persons can be powerful change agents in their communities. Disseminating information on the electoral cycle, volunteering in voter registration drives, observing elections to ensure rights are respected, and forming watchdog organizations are some of the many ways youths around the world are making a difference.
Below is a Q&A with Sabina Acharya from Kathmandu, Nepal.
Please tell us about your work around voter registration.
I worked as a voter champion for Youth Initiative Nepal. In the very first phase of our work, I was stationed at voter registration center help desks in Baneswor and Lalitpur and assisted people to check if they were already registered correctly, and if not, to register to vote.
After working at the help desk, I was chosen to be a voter champion in the Increasing Voter Education program. This program targets students in colleges in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts to be aware of the new system of voter registration and criteria to register. I visited most of the colleges in the Kathmandu Valley.
College administration granted us their time and their students. I gave my presentation on the new system of voter registration, ways to register, who is eligible to register and where they can register.
What motivates you to participate in your country’s democratic process?
Democracy is beautiful and affords people a sense of freedom. Although Nepal feels proud to call itself a democratic country, we are not enjoying democracy in its real sense. Nepal is facing problems due to political instability. I had been involved in the democratic process from the very beginning, indirectly. Today, I am involved in this democratic process directly with the hope that youth can change the country.
Moreover, I want to have a free society where every individual can enjoy peace and live in a healthy community run by rule of law. This is possible only in a democratic country.
Not only this, I am very much inspired by one quotation, “If you are not lighting a candle, don’t blame about the dark.” Being young, I want to take some responsibility so the urgency to solve present challenges we are facing can be minimized to some extent.
What do youth bring to the table when it comes to encouraging greater citizen participation?
I have always believed that youth can motivate more people than any other group can. When it comes to greater citizen participation in the democratic process, youth can make others feel their presence is important.
In order to encourage all citizens, it is important to raise their awareness and make them feel that they are an important part of a whole democratic process.
How can we all help foster greater youth involvement?
Youth are actors of change. They are not only leaders of tomorrow, but also partners of today. Young people are showing great interest in political issues and are searching different mediums to express themselves. It would be a great mistake to think that they do not show any interest in participating in the political process.
Personally, I think that in any democratic country, rule of law is vital. But I am quite upset to know most youth cannot explain rule of law and how it works. So my concern is to make youth aware of our governing system. If there is rule of law in any country, then democracy in that country will be long-lasting. Let us have workshop trainings among youth so youth actions understand and follow rule of law to create change.