TO celebrate the Year of Young People, every week in 2018 The National is giving a platform to young Scots. This week, 15-year-old Caitie Dundas.

THIS year I turn 16. It feels a very fitting birthday to have during the Year of Young People. I’ll be able to marry, begin a family, leave home, pay taxes and, most excitingly, vote in Scottish elections and referendums.

Throughout my childhood I was taught the importance of voting. My mother would take me to the polling station with her, and explain how women died for our right, so it was so incredibly important for us to use that right.

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I’ve been seriously interested in politics for more than five years now, since before the 2014 referendum. I used to tag along with my mother when she went door-knocking, and I’d bake cakes to serve at the Lesley Riddoch’s Blossom events in our local village hall. I remember sitting at the back of the room, the youngest there by far, feeling excited and inspired by what Lesley had to say. I think that’s when I decided I wanted to be involved in politics.

The National:

A young Caitie Dundas (far right) at one of Lesley Riddoch's events in 2014

After the referendum, I was even more motivated by the masses of 16- and 17-year-olds who turned out to vote. I wanted to join the politically inspired young people. So I did. I joined both my local and the national youth parliament. I attended meetings with my MSPs and MP. I watched debates and speeches. I began speaking to my friends about politics, and to adults.

I feel valued as a young person in Scotland. I truly believe the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament take our thoughts and feelings into account.

The UK Parliament is a different story, however.

A debate for votes at 16 has been filibustered TWICE in Westminster. I find it truly shocking that decision-makers lack the courage to even own up, and give it to us straight – that they simply don’t want us to be able to vote.

Instead they chose to use an undemocratic, archaic method to avoid tarnishing their reputation. It’s disheartening to see the way young people are viewed in the UK, especially considering the high tuition fees my fellow young people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have to pay. I’m lucky to be in Scotland, where the cards seem a little less stacked against us.

If we are deemed mature enough to pay tax, then why aren’t we mature enough to help decide how that money is spent? This is why I feel so driven to make young people’s voices heard, and not just in Scotland. No matter what may come in the future, Scotland is a part of the UK right now, and we, as young people, deserve a say in what’s going on. We deserve a say on Brexit, on Trident, on taxes and on healthcare.

During the Year of Young People we need to stand together and ensure that our voices are heard. We need to challenge decision-makers and call out their blatant disregard for our opinion.

We need to prove them wrong, and I’m confident that we WILL prove them wrong.

NB these are Caitie’s own opinions and not representative of any organisations with which she is affiliated