Youth Engagement

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has promoted youth participation in democratic processes worldwide for over 30 years and believes that democracy truly flourishes when all people have the knowledge, skills and opportunities to participate in democratic life. With nearly half of the world’s total population 25 years or younger, the current youth generation* of approximately 3 billion people is becoming one of the most influential populations in history.

Underpinning IFES’ youth programming framework is an intersectional approach and core belief that young people are a diverse group who hold unique beliefs and experiences. As such, IFES contextualizes and tailors approaches to ensure diverse opinions are considered across youth programming. IFES also applies the following approaches:

  • Employs a rights-based approach integrating human rights standards and principles
  • Applies a positive youth development approach to empower youth agency, enhance skillsets and foster engagement between young people and political and civil actors, systems and processes.
  • Engages young people as active participants in the electoral process
  • Partners with young people as positive agents and equip them with conflict resolution and peacebuilding tools

IFES’ youth-led partner organization, Association of Youth Organizations Nepal, at a street drama event promoting youth participation ahead of Nepal’s 2017 federal elections


As a learning organization, IFES has an internal Knowledge Management Initiative Working Group on Youth and Civic Education and Engagement to help grow the research, tools and technical expertise we offer our partners worldwide.

*International and national definitions of youth range widely, with different definitions encompassing the age range 10-40. The most common age ranges define youth from somewhere in the mid-teenage years to the mid- to late-20s. As an international nongovernmental organization, IFES responds to specific country contexts and donor requirements, and as such does not adhere strictly to one definition.

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