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Source: New Zealand Unions Activists and Left Political Parties

Headline: Students to march for an end to violence and discrimination this Youth Week 2017 – Shakti Youth

As part of Youth Week 2017, young people, many from migrant and refugee backgrounds, are coming together to demand their voices be counted. Shakti Youth is hosting a youth march to end all violence and discrimination on the 4th of June from 1pm at Britomart. The march will end at Aotea Square, where a number of young speakers will address issues of family violence, racial discrimination and gender inequality.

Shakti Youth advocates for gender equality and against discrimination, violence and abuse within and outside of the home.

Last year, Rani, a 15 year old high school student involved in Shakti Youth decided to organise a march to take action against violence and discrimination. Since then, the idea spread to students of several other high schools who are now also involved.

“From this march, I want more people to have an awareness around violence and discrimination within our society, get inspired and stand up for their rights,” says Rani, year 11 student.

Auckland is becoming increasingly culturally diverse and this is especially reflected in the youth population. However, Shakti Youth has identified that the issues of racial discrimination, Islamophobia, bullying and family violence are still affecting many Asian, Middle Eastern and African youth in high school.

Shannyl, a year 12 student says, “I want to advocate for equality in our youth specifically, because I feel that in schools, there is a sense of discrimination related to ethnicity and colour.”

The theme of this year’s Youth Week organised by Ara Taiohi is “Our voices count; count our voices”. This Youth Week, Shakti Youth also produced short videos and series of posters were made in partnership with Ara Taiohi to amplify linguistically diverse youth voices.

Siddhi, a year 11 student, who will be speaking on Sunday, explains what Shakti Youth is about: “If we break up the words, ‘Shakti Youth’, Shakti is ‘power’ in the language Sanskrit. This is all about bringing the youth power together and try to stop all these things such as bullying and discrimination, because it affects our lives. Many people are suffering from this. But the only thing is, we need to stand up together.”

“I believe in change, but to make change, you have to take action,” says Gurpreet, year 13 student.

“The march will remind people that it’s an issue and it is not okay to discriminate or target a certain group of people, certain race or certain religion.” Atia, year 13 student, adds.

Adult guest speakers include MP Marama Davidson from the Green Party and Labour candidate Priyanca Radhakrishnan.

The march is open to all but it will be led by youth.