Young Leader Perspective: Tadzmahar J. Abdukadil

Publication Date: 
10 Aug 2012

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 Tadzmahar J. Abdukadil from Tawi-Tawi, Philippines.

Age: 21

Profession: Teacher

Please tell us about your work around the latest election.

I volunteered for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) during the October 2010 Village and Youth Council Elections. PPCRV is a church-based Catholic election monitoring organization. I was trained to do poll monitoring work.

What motivates you to participate in your country’s democratic process?

Because of my participation as an election volunteer during the last elections in our region, I realized that vigilance is very important. It has motivated me to be actively involved in my country's democratic process. When I learned that the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms (Citizens CARE) was organizing a democracy youth camp in my province I immediately joined.

I am a firm believer that youth are the hope of the Motherland—one of the more popular sayings of our national hero Dr. José Rizal. We are the hope of our nation, indeed.  We are the future. However, we can only chart our future if we are empowered. To be empowered, we have to have the right information and be equipped with the right skills to effectively perform our responsibilities as active agents of change in our communities.

Working for the youth builds trust and fosters camaraderie among my peers because we share the same experiences, have similar expectations and demand the same needs. One of the most rewarding aspects working for my sector is the potential to use my skills and passion to build meaningful relationships with my fellow youth.

What do youth bring to the table when it comes to encouraging greater citizen participation?

You can rely on youth to be proactive in encouraging their fellow citizens to be active stakeholders in promoting democracy in our country. The youth are idealistic, young and full of energy. Seeing them energetic in democratic activities would serve as an inspiration to others. If they join hands and work for a common cause – for example, ensuring that democracy works well in our country – they could contribute a lot to the political development of the Philippines.

Let me cite as an example the case of youth organizations in our province Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines. The Citizens CARE-Youth Electoral Reform Advocates (YERA), which I am a part of, has taken the lead in unifying all existing in-school and out-of-school youth organizations by forming a loose and non-partisan alliance of organizations called the Tawi-Tawi Youth Movement. We recognize the wisdom of collaborating with existing organizations to ensure that we speak as one in advocating for the prioritization of the youth agenda and to put it at the forefront of governance. It is a good thing that Citizens CARE YERA has established a good working relationship with our regional government’s youth agency, the Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (BYA), because we are able to directly communicate our issues to the concerned officials. We are fortunate that the current head of the BYA is a former officer of Citizens CARE.  We took advantage of this rare opportunity to ensure that the regional government is aware and supportive of plans for the youth not only in my province, but in the entire region.

Additionally, Citizens CARE-YERA have also been working closely with Citizens CARE trainers in the conduct of the voter education activities in schools and in our respective communities, especially during the voter information drive for the general voter’s registration activity from July 9 to 18, 2012.

How can we all help foster greater youth involvement?

We should take the lead in mobilizing our fellow youth in our respective communities. We should reach out to them, tapping various types of media like radio, television and modern technologies such as mobile phones.

We have the numbers. We just need to be mobilized and have access to the right information. The youth have a certain sense of independence. At times, they could be very vocal and principled with regard to issues that matter most to them. We should be able to capitalize on the inherent attitude of the youth to be curious and have inquisitive minds. If they know what their rights are, then they would be able to defend them when needed.

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