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Biggest Challenge Is Overcoming Generation Gap

"As youths joined from all around the country to participate in the 2019 National Youth Conference, a major concern for many was implement­ing what they had learnt in their own communities."
28 Mar 2019 10:00
Biggest Challenge Is Overcoming Generation Gap
Minister for Youth and Sports Parveen Bala.

Overcoming the generation gap in communities is often the biggest challenge for youths as they attempt to bring to light issues affecting contemporary Fiji.

As youths joined from all around the country to participate in the 2019 National Youth Conference, a major concern for many was implement­ing what they had learnt in their own communities.

Raivalita Yavalanavanua, 26, from Somosomo Village in Taveuni said the generation gap was a concern, especially in conservative communi­ties.

“As youths, we sometimes speak up but our voices are not heard within our villages,” Mr Yavalanavanua said.

“We are marginalised and pushed aside because in that setting the el­ders and traditional leaders are the only ones who make decisions.”

An analogy he gave was regarding climate change and how little the peo­ple in his community understood the issue even though they were experi­encing its impacts.

“The shoreline is moving up and our marine resources are diminishing,” Mr Yavalanavanua said.

“The sustainability of farming is also in question because of saltwater intrusion into farming lands, so now we are moving towards the forest so we can plant dalo and yaqona.

“Despite the impacts we still did not understand what climate change is and some people view it as a political agenda.”

He added it was time for youths to step up and be the agents of change.

“It is not about us wanting to over­rule our elders, we are just trying to inform them of the changes that are happening,” he said.

“Global issues are beginning to take effect in small communities like ours and most of us are not ready to accept those changes.

“And that is why we are here, so we can go back and raise awareness.”

Meanwhile, Artika Devi, who is a second-year USP student, said people still held conservative beliefs on gen­der equality and gender roles.

“It is sometimes difficult to drive these messages home and in our com­munities because as youths we are sometimes not taken seriously,” Ms Devi said.

In light of these concerns raised by youths, Minister for Youth and Sports Parveen Bala has called on leaders of different communities and religious bodies to listen to the youths.

He has asked community elders and leaders from all walks of life to en­gage youth in decision making pro­cesses.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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