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St Lucian minister raps with International youth delegates

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16 August 2006

St Lucia's Social Transformation Minister

Interacts with CYEX 2006 delegates

Minister of Social Transformation of St Lucia, the Honourable Ms Menissa Rambally, on Wednesday August 16, 2006, interacted with delegates of the Commonwealth Caribbean Youth Exchange (CYEX) on issues related to youth in politics in the Caribbean.

Thirty-year-old Minister Rambally, who was elected to parliament at the age of 21, urged the young people gathered at the Lambert Beach Resort in Tortola, BVI, to be responsible youth leaders.

"Do not let society define what your needs are…your needs are the same as every other citizen in your country, hence leadership should be about integrating people and not stereotyping as some have the custom of doing," she said.

Delegates were advised that it was alright to be evolving as young people. "It is okay to move from one interest to another. Your minds are active and you are exploring possibilities…if those possibilities take you to politics, then it calls for development, integration and sharing your knowledge...politics is a people-driven career so you must have the interest of others at heart."

Today, possibilities are immense and limitless and this generation is doing things that were not traditionally done, Minister Rambally observed.

The young politician acknowledged the efforts of CYPCC's Regional Director, Mr Henry Charles, and other organisers of the Youth Exchange, commenting that the Caribbean region has to find safeguards to protect the achievements it has made.

Delegates were told that the real world today suggests that the Caribbean is not removed from the rest of the global environment because what ever happens there affects this region and youth leaders are going to be faced with increasing challenges.

Delegates were given an opportunity to ask the Hon Minister questions. Here are some questions posed by the delegates to Minister Rambally.

What are some of the challenges you are faced with as a young Minister and how do you maintain your integrity?

The challenges I am faced with are multifaceted. Stereotyping is the biggest challenge for me. Being a young female Minister, older people often want to impose their thoughts by influencing my ideas and views because they felt that I was too young to make those decisions for myself. I was also being pressured to address women needs ahead of men. These opportunities helped me to state clear my stand against stereotyping. Despite that I maintained my integrity by being true to myself and surrounding myself with positive people who had something to share with me that I could learn from.

Do you think there is a need for political education in the Caribbean?

Yes, we definitely need that in the Caribbean. We have been taught for too long that politicians are bad people. If there is political education in the Caribbean then people will be more informed about the issues affecting them.

What would be your advice to young people who would like to get involved in politics?

As young people you need to utilize every opportunity that allows you to be seen by community and at other levels in your country. Give yourself a voice and support the politician who will support and push your ideas forward. Do not get involved in stereotyping.

What are your views on complacency in the Political arena?

There are programmes and other initiatives sitting on the shelves for a number of years that have not been looked at. It is very important that you realize that the civil society process influences the pace of progress in the region with regards to the implementation of initiatives. Politicians should find a way to help to process.

How are you able to keep up with the negative publicity in the media in St. Lucia and still keep your integrity?

When it comes to my integrity and character I do not hesitate to defend myself. Apart from that I have adopted a well known philosophy which says 'the best defence is no defence. I feel that young people can play a role in the media. The media should be responsible for the information they disseminate despite their right to freedom of speech.

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