A call for action has been made to our leaders including Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly of Tonga from Women and Children’s Crisis Centre (WCCC) young women on six issues they need to address.

This is the young female leaders’ voices to mark International Youth Day 2020 yesterday. This year’s theme Youth Engagement for Global Action seeks to highlight the ways in which engagement of young at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes.

WCCC's Media and Information Communications Advocate - Soana Pongi called the leaders including legislators to ‘Thinking Globally and Acting Locally.’

"If we want to achieve goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) then we need to start stepping up on our actions to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment"   

Young women and staff of WCCC today made a call for action to leaders of our nation including Cabinet and Parliament on issues they need for women empowerment.  

On youth rights, the WCCC youth say they believe 15 years old is way too young to get married for they are still in the learning, growing and developing into who they want to become.

“Please amend the Laws increasing the age from 15-18,” according to WCCC statement.

Another plea was for the amendment of the definition of rape under the law. WCCC youth believed the definition of rape under the law is too narrow for it only recognises penile penetration.

“But we know RAPE happens in many different ways and forms and it’s not enough to be charged under indecent assault! Rape is Rape!”

On voting rights WCCC young women also asked Cabinet and Parliament to change the voting system law to allow them to vote at 18.

“If we can make the decision to marry at 18, sign contracts, work in full-time employment, start up a business, apply for a driver’s license and register a vehicle, commence studies at University and Tertiary, lease and register land, THEN we should be allowed to vote at 18.”

On education, these young female leaders also asked the leaders including MPs they want civic education earlier. They want to learn more about politics, democracy, human rights, gender equality, rule of law and all these issues covered under civic education while they are still in high school.

Another issue of concern is a call for a law on sexual harassment. “We want to become responsible citizens sooner rather than later sexual harassment. We can't believe that there are no Sexual Harassment Policies or Laws in place and it is 2020!

We all know that women - especially us young women entering the workforce are at high risk of this behaviour. “

The last issue the young woman leaders want their leaders to address is online violence. They claim there are too many cases of cyber-bullying and Tonga need to protect our young ones.

‘Especially girls and young women from these types of threats of sharing private videos and photos without her consent. This is not nice and we need to strengthen our laws around this”

Youth International Day is commemorated worldwide on August 12 every year. 

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