When asked about voting, some of the younger research participants talked about lowering the voting age to 16 years and mentioned that a right to vote at 16 has the potential to encourage more political engagement in young people.
“I feel like a lot of people our age would give an educated vote.”
“The voting age should definitely be lowered but only if politics is taught more in schools.”
“I think a lot of [young] people are underestimated, it’s a big responsibility but I don’t think it’s anything young people can’t cope with.”
Young women also discussed recent political events such as Brexit, expressing frustration with the outcome and their exclusion from the vote.
“If our generation was able to vote, I feel like a lot of us would have voted for something different. A lot of older people who voted, it won’t affect them. It’s our future.”
“It’s infuriating when you’re standing outside polling stations at age 15, 16 and 17 and you aren’t able to vote even though you’ve campaigned every day for three months.”
Many of the survey respondents talked of the positive aspects of social media because it has helped them to engage more in politics. They also highlighted its importance as a means to access information that may not otherwise be available:
“It’s so great to read the words of someone who has a personal experience to share which either you relate to or maybe it gives you some insight or empathy, I also life that social media enables me to discover events that I would otherwise not know about.”
“Twitter is a great place to keep up to date and see a wide range of views that I would not normally come into contact with.”
One way that many of the research participants said they engage in politics and political issues is through discussion with friends and family.
“[We talk about] stuff like Brexit and stuff about rights, women’s rights especially, we’re all very opinionated about that.”
“There’s people in our group who don’t have the same views so we can still have discussions and we’re not all like ‘yeah yeah, we feel the same’ – but we have discussions and see other people’s points of view. We don’t change our mindset but it could affect how we see things.”
Party and Local Politics
“I was a party member but I had not done anything. Then the Independence Referendum was such an inspiring thing that I got involved. That was the first time I went door knocking, doing table stalls, canvassing, things like that.”
“I’m a member of the Women for Independence National Committee and I do a lot of work on raising awareness about sexual harassment in schools and I’m on the cross-party group for violence against women and girls as well as some campaigning with Women’s Aid.”
“The first time I went to protest something was the Women’s March, being surrounded by such incredible people couldn’t not give you some hope.”
“I set up an online Instagram account to raise awareness and create a safe space for girls to share their stories.”