Irish teenager takes over Taoiseach’s office and calls for youth voices to be heard on UNICEF’s World Children’s Day

PRESS RELEASE
Irish teenager takes over Taoiseach’s office and calls for youth voices to be heard on UNICEF’s World Children’s Day
 
Aoife Murphy wins UNICEF’s #KidsTakeOver competition after campaign to lower the voting age to 16
 
DUBLIN, 18 November 2017 – Fifteen-year-old Aoife Murphy from Westmeath will bring the voice of young people around Ireland to the Taoiseach’s office on Monday November 19th, after winning UNICEF’s Taoiseach #KidsTakeOver competition. Youth advocate Aoife is campaigning for Ireland to lower the voting age to 16 and will spend the day with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar highlighting why young people deserve to have a say in decisions that affect their future.
 
Aoife’s takeover of the Taoiseach’s office comes the day before World Children’s Day on November 20th. World Children’s Day is a day ‘for children, by children’, when children from around the world will be taking over, as part of UNICEF’s global #KidsTakeOver initiative, key roles in media, politics, business, sport and entertainment to express their concerns about what global leaders should be focusing on.
 
Aoife was chosen by UNICEF to represent the views of the children of Ireland after she entered a competition to describe the one change she would like to see in her community, nation, or world. Aoife spoke passionately about why she started a local campaign to lower the voting age to 16 and why it’s so important to listen to the voices of young people on issues that will have consequences for their future.
 
This year Aoife has been running a campaign in her school and community to give young people a voice in their future and to advocate for change in the voting age. “Young people are facing great challenges like climate change, inequality and unemployment. We want to play our part in deciding who is making the decisions, that ultimately will have a far greater impact on our generation than theirs. It is our future – we deserve our say!” she said.
 
UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “World Children’s Day is a celebration of children all over the world and of all the progress we have made on children’s rights, but it is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the issues faced by children both at home in Ireland and around the world. Aoife’s wonderful determination and passion for giving young people a voice is a reminder that children and young people will be the most affected by the decisions, from climate change to housing, that our societies make today.”
 
World Children’s Day is commemorated each year on 20 November and marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The global day raises awareness and vital funds for the millions of children who are unschooled, unprotected and uprooted. Alongside the #KidsTakeOvers and other activities this year, UNICEF is inviting the public to go online and sign its global petition asking for leaders to commit to fulfilling the rights of every child now and for future generations, and to Go Blue for every child by doing or wearing something blue on 20 November.
ENDS ###
Notes to Editors
About: Aoife Murphy – “It is our future – we deserve our say!”
Aoife Murphy (15) lives in Delvin, Co. Westmeath with her family. She is a student at Eureka Secondary School in Kells.
 
A passionate youth advocate and community volunteer, Aoife has recently started a campaign in her local community to lower the voting age to 16. As a young person from a small village in rural Ireland, Aoife has personal experience of how it feels to be dis-empowered and excluded from the national conversation. She has witnessed first-hand how her peers can become disconnected and apathetic – feeling their voices are not being heard. 
 
Aoife is concerned that many young people are not encouraged to get involved in politics or their wider community. “My local community is like a family. We’re all the same and that’s what we need. If we don’t have the force to come together, then we can’t tackle the issues that matter most.”
 
She believes that young voices are being lost on important long-term issues that will drastically impact their futures – with adults making choices and young people having to live with the consequences.
 
Through her campaign, Aoife is fighting for more faith to be shown in young people – giving them the responsibility and opportunity to voice what matters to them.
 
With lowering the voting age likely to be put before the people in a referendum in 2019, Aoife believes now is the time to give voice to the issues faced by young people and to highlight the impact that change could have. “At 16 I am legally allowed to drive a tractor. At 16 I can legally get married.  At 16 I can legally be paid the national minimum wage.  At 16 I can legally consent to medical treatment. If we can do all of these things, why can’t we vote? Or have a say in our future?” says Aoife.
 
Aoife feels without a voice at the ballot box, her generation will be powerless in the face of the challenges like, climate change and the housing crisis. As part of the Taoiseach #KidsTakeOver competition Aoife produced a powerful video to explain why lowering the voting age matters so much to her.
 
About World Children’s Day
More information on World Children’s Day, visit: https://www.unicef.org/world-childrens-day/
 
About UNICEF
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
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For more information, please contact: Danny Smits, Communications and Advocacy Officer for UNICEF Ireland | danny@unicef.ie | Tel: +353 1 809 0291 | Mob: +353 87 1308070