What is a youth council?
According to the Local Government Act, every municipality in Finland must have a youth council or equivalent participation organ for young people. Youth councils represent the youth’s voice in municipal decision-making and by law they have to be given the opportunity to influence planning, preparation, implementation and follow-up activities in different sectors that are relevant for residents’ well-being, health, studying, environment, living and public transport, as well as other matters that the youth council considers relevant.
The members of a youth council are usually between 13 and 20 years of age. Some municipalities hold elections for youth council members, whereas some youth councils are open to all young people living in the municipality. Many youth councils have a representative in the municipal council and/or representatives in committees appointed by the municipal council.
Besides participation in the decision-making, many youth councils have their own budget that they can use to organize events for young people living in the municipality.
The members of the Union of Local Youth Councils in Finland are individual members of the local youth councils. Membership is voluntary and requires a small annual fee, which can also be subsidised by the member’s municipality.