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The Power Of The Youth Vote in #RepealThe8th

Saturday, May 26 was a historic day for Ireland. We voted in an overwhelming majority to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, thus bringing an end to Ireland’s restrictive abortion ban.

Ireland’s Minister For health, Simon Harris said “our country said to women, we stand with you. We said to women -take our hand, not the boat. It has been incredible to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as we work to create a country which treats women with compassion. I will always be in your corner #TogetherForYes

The landslide result for the Yes side really took everyone by surprise as the campaign was often very divisive. But in the end the Yes side won with 66.4% of the vote. And it seems that the Youth Vote was a major factory in the victory.

The Youth Vote

Often young people are dismissed as “snowflakes” and “more interested in their phones”. But the passion from young people during the campaign was inspiring.

The Youth Vote is seen as what pushed the Yes side to such a large victory. Almost 90% of voters under 25 appear to have voted Yes. The Irish Independent called the referendum result a “quiet revolution, a youth-quake”.

There was a generation gap that the youth vote helped bridge. Young people are being credited with undertaking difficult conversations with family members and presenting facts and figures that ultimately swayed people. Social Media also played a huge part in securing Repeal.

We saw the passion of readers on social media and the frustration in not being old enough to vote. In what was described as a once in a generation vote it was particularly hard for those closing in on 18 to deal with the exclusion, especially when the result would affect their future. But its obvious to see that they didn’t just sit back. Conversations were still had. Views were sill expressed. And support was still given. We think serious consideration should be given to lowering to voting age to 16.


What’s Next?

Unfortunately just because we have successfully voted to Repeal 8th doesn’t mean that anyone can now access abortion Ireland. The vote just meant that we were ok with removing the eight from the constitution. Now the government have to legislate for this. There have been some drafts of the new legislation floated around, but nothing is set yet. The new legislation will have to be drawn up and debated and then passed through the Oireachtas. So, we are still looking at a ban on abortion in Ireland until the end of the year. But calls have already been made to urge the government to move as quickly as possible on this.

We are also not finished with Referendums in Ireland this year. The Independent reports that we are set to vote on two other archaic additions to Ireland’s constitution in the autumn. The first one will be to remove the reference that women belong in the home.

“In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.” and “The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.”

There is no room in modern Ireland for describing women in such a stereotypical way. We are also set to vote on the removal of blasphemy as on offence. They sound straight forward but if this referendum has taught us anything is that some people just love arguing for the sake of it.

If you’re approaching your 18th Birthday before the end of the year make sure that you’re registered to vote.

0 In Politics

When Are People Going To Start Listening To Teens?

I remember finding the age of 16-18 really frustrating. Like a lot of people my age I knew my own thoughts and opinions, but if felt like no one was interested in listening to teens.

I always wondered at what point did you become serious and therefore worthy of expressing an opinion. When you go to college? When you graduate? Is it at 18? But for me I didn’t see a big difference between myself at 16 and 18.


I Don’t Wanna Be An American Idiot

I was reminded of this after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida on 14 February. I’m pretty sure that I don’t need to rehash the details. You probably know all about it. Just like you have probably become disillusioned with the common occurrence of this in the US.

When news broke on Twitter about the shooting I remember voicing the question of when would it change? Never I immediately thought. Sandy Hook was the one. The one that should have changed everything in the U.S and around the world when it came to gun violence and safety in schools. But it didn’t.

I worked as a Kindergarten Teacher for 3 years in Abu Dhabi and I often found myself thinking what would I do if something happened in my school. How would I get my students to safety? How could I block my door if I needed to? It’s the sad reality of life today. Thankfully I never had to go though what numerous students and teachers do in the US. As someone who now works in media I found it bizarre how quickly media in the US moved to brush the Las Vegas shooting under the carpet.


A Time For Change?

So, yeah I set the bar very low when it came to this latest atrocity. But then something happened. Something that made me even happier than ever to be on the fringe when it comes to teens. The students of Stoneman Douglas High School rallied and instead of the story going away it continued to grow. And it feels like something might actually be happening. They are vocal online that changes need to be made. They’ve made numerous TV appearances, met with politicians and organised a walk out.

For me badass Lawyer Amal Clooney summed up all of my feelings.

“I am just blown away by these students. I think they are doing an amazing job turning a tragedy into advocacy. It’s only been a week since this happened and I’m in awe of how courageous they are and how effective they are. I would never have had the possession of mind or the courage at 16 years old, let alone having just gone through what they have, to be able to stand face to face with the president, a senator, the NRA, and answer those tough questions. They are the best vehicle and best hope for change. I really hope that they will succeed and make a meaningful difference.”

“The new generation, the young people, feel empowered to make a change. And frankly, they are the ones who should have the platform. The march we’re attending, it’s their march. They are the ones that are going to be speaking. And if someone tries to tell them what the reality is, their response should be, ‘Well, I was the one hiding in the closet a week ago, so let me tell you how I feel and this is what would make me feel safe.’ Watching them gives me a lot of hope.”

Teens are changing the conversations and holding power to account. But because America is an absolute disaster zone at the moment instead of applauding these teens for standing up and voicing their opinion after being through a very traumatising experience they’re being told to sit down and shut up by numerous politicians and media outlets.  They’re not being listened to because they are calling it like it is and that makes some people very uncomfortable.


Teen Media

I found the same with the condescending reaction to Teen Vogue during the last (disastrous) Election Cycle in the US. Despite the fact that most of the articles were being written by adult journalists (Teen Vogue do take submissions from readers, like us!) there was a very dismissive attitude towards them. At least at first. Teen Vogue did some of the best commentary around the election and around Trump. But because they are a “teen mag” it felt like they needed to earn the privilege to discuss “serious” topics. They don’t, and neither do you.

The reality of the Teen Vogue coverage is that it was driven by what readers want. Teen Vogue wouldn’t continue to publish such articles if no one was reading and reacting to them. This shows that there is an apatite there from teens for those articles. That teens have opinions and an interest too. The true story of how Teen Vogue got mad, got woke, and began terrifying men like Donald Trump is well worth a read.

Teens In Ireland

I really feel that teens are not being listened to in Ireland either. I went to a Catholic School and there was a constant air of don’t talk about it. Don’t talk about the fact that your classmates are dropping out of school. Please don’t mention how we never gave you a sex ed class. Don’t talk about suicide or mental health. And don’t even mention the stress that you’re under from studying, but here’s some more homework to further add to it.

It comes back to my original question, when will teens be listened to? At what point is society going to deem your voice worthy? When will you even be asked the question in the first place? As women does that ever even fully happen? We are so underrepresented at so many decision tables.

Make Your Voice Be Heard

Social Media is a great tool outside of the bragging and “like” obsession. I see it especially on Twitter. We follow a lot of our Missy readers there and it honestly makes me so excited for the future when I see you voicing opinions and concerns there.

In terms of the upcoming Referendum on the 8th Amendment I know a lot of you reading this can’t vote because you’re under 18. But I would urge you to talk to your parents. And maybe more importantly your grandparents who are from an older generation about what this vote will mean for you and your future. I think this is your chance to use your voice and make it heard.

Like the students in the US, teens are the force that we need to make changes. Make sure that people listen to you.