The current generation of youth are the largest in history and are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. The United Nation’s International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to “Youth Building Peace.” As a global leader in democracy promotion, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) recognizes the importance of cultivating the next generation of leaders. On International Youth Day, we celebrate the contributions of young people to peace and justice.
Every year, IFES works with youth from around the world to ensure that their voices are heard. You can find more information about our work on youth engagement below:
As the ongoing crisis in Syria continues to uproot its citizens from their homes, the displacement has been felt keenly by Syrian youth. Young Syrians have few avenues to express their desperation and even fewer platforms for civic engagement. In 2016, IFES assisted Syrian organizations based in Gaziantep, Turkey to found Musharaka, a forum to encourage civic engagement of Syrians living in Gaziantep. In its first year, Musharaka reached over 1,060 Syrian youth in Gaziantep.
In Georgia, IFES has partnered with 27 institutions of higher learning to implement a fully accredited university-level civic education course; there are more than 7,000 course alumni throughout the country. The curriculum requires students to apply the theoretical knowledge gained through classroom work to real world situations in their communities, analyzing their communities and then designing and implementing projects to address identified issues.
When IFES first encountered Azamat Karabotoev in the summer of 2013, he was a quiet teenager from the Talas region of Kyrgyzstan. Like over 2,000 other Kyrgyzstani youth before him, Azamat participated in an IFES Democracy Camp. He said the experience “changed his life” leading him to make a positive contribution to Kyrgyz society as a political journalist.
With funding from Global Affairs Canada under its “Kenya Electoral Systems Support” program, IFES, in partnership with United Nations Children's Fund and the Kenya Primary School Head Teachers Association, hosted 470 student representatives ahead of the August 8 general elections for the National Children’s Government Congress, which included nominations, elections, the children’s government parliamentary session and swearing-in ceremony.
On June 1, the Election Commission of Sri Lanka held a youth event at the University of Colombo as part of Sri Lanka’s annual National Voters’ Day celebration. IFES was proud to support the event as part of its U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program in Sri Lanka.