What should be done to see that underrepresented people’s views are heard?

This month the inequality question chosen and debated by the children living on the streets in Uganda was ‘What should be done to see that underrepresented people’s views are heard?’.

We received many suggestions as to how we should define underrepresented people, how we can improve representation and even had a debate over whether equal representation for all is what’s best…?

What does underrepresented mean?

Initially, people started by suggesting their own definitions as to who is underrepresented.

“We all define underrepresented people differently depending on our life experience as to who we have seen being underrepresented.” – Davy, UK

“The first thing that needs to be done is to identify which people are unrepresented and why.  Once these groups are identified it is then possible to look at the barriers to their voice being heard and identify how these can be removed.” – Lis, UK

Most respondents then agreed the representation should be more equal and that those who are underrepresented need to find ways of improving their inclusion.

“We need to change how we value and listen to people. Everyone’s views can be too important. Let’s make time to hear them.” – Henry, Kenya

“Firstly society should work on all people being seen as absolutely equal regardless of wealth, race, religion, sex or anything else. Then it should naturally follow that all people’s views are represented.” – Dan, UK

How can we make sure that underrepresented people’s views are heard?

The theme of politicians and governments, being a key part of the solution were brought up regularly.

“Establishing committees to speak/ represent people’s opinions. For children, having a committee for the Children approved by the Government to represent the disadvantaged and neglected children.”– Alfred, Uganda

“Members of parliament should go down to them [underrepresented people], get their views and take them and table them in parliament.” – Joel, Uganda

“Communities need to vote MPs and political leaders who care about people and are not just “yes” people to those in higher power” – Nagudi, Uganda

There were also many other ideas, some of which could be actioned by underrepresented people themselves and some which needed involvement from others, such as community leaders.

“Use of radios both talk shows and announcements to share different views would help” – Matia, Uganda

“Community meetings with local leaders and the local people is my idea” – Muwanika, Uganda

“Through sharing one’s ideas on social media platforms e.g twitter, facebook”– Yazid, Uganda

“Knowledge is power. Awareness-raising is very key to increasing representation of the underrepresented” – Owori, Uganda

Can we have equal representation?

The problems with achieving equal representation were explored…

“The problem when you start doing things like quotas to make sure that different voices are heard, like women, is that it can make some people view them differently i.e. that they are not there on merit/ hard work but just to fill a quota.” – Davy, UK

Some respondents also suggested that maybe equal representation for all isn’t best.

“Maybe it’s safer for people to not have their views heard with the current state of politics?” – Jerry, USA

“… we should be careful to give all peoples views and opinions equal status – they should be viewed and heard within moral codes and laws.” – Dan, UK

Conclusion

Overall, this debate allowed for a lot of discussion on how we can improve representation for those who are underrepresented and whether we should aim for equal representation for all. There were also lots of great suggestions from all over the world, including Uganda, Kenya, UK and USA! It seems that support from government and those with power is what most people think will work best.

Remember to join us next month to keep sharing ideas about how we can challenge global inequalities together!

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