IFES Celebrates International Youth Day 2018
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) celebrates International Youth Day 2018 with a weeklong social media campaign to showcase the importance of youth participation in democratic and political processes. This year’s theme, Safe Spaces for Youth, promotes not only youth’s right to participate in decision-making processes, but also the role played by society and governments in creating and maintaining an environment that is safe for and inclusive of youth.
Recognizing that a healthy democracy enables the participation of all citizens, IFES promotes youth engagement and works to foster lifelong participation. IFES seeks to develop young leaders across the world through programming that teaches young people about their democratic rights and responsibilities, provides opportunities for advocacy and civic engagement, and encourages newly-enfranchised voters to participate in elections.
As part of a wider civic and voter education project, IFES’ Changamka Youth Mentorship program developed youths’ skills to encourage and increase participation in governance and political processes beyond the 2017 Kenyan general elections. Through this activity, youth have become more confident to act as positive change agents in their communities.
IFES’ flagship women’s leadership program, She Leads, has trained over 2,600 women and equipped them with key skills and knowledge to take on political and electoral leadership roles. As a result of the trainings, She Leads alumnae have become elected representatives and national election commissioners as well as implemented voter education initiatives in their communities.
Bridging technology, activism and democracy, IFES’ first ever Hack4Democracy camp sought to increase young Tunisians’ participation in political processes. IFES capitalized on Tunisian youths’ active online engagement to create a space for learning across the country. Through this initiative, youth developed technological solutions to address democratic challenges in their communities.
For more than 20 years, IFES has implemented over 80 democracy camps across the world, including 50 in Kyrgyzstan. The camp model is built upon educating youth on the principles of democratic governance and empowering them with knowledge of their civic rights and responsibilities. Follow-up surveys demonstrate an increase in civic participation, confidence and leadership skills with some alumni organizing a broad range of projects to affect positive change in their communities.
In partnership with a local disabled people’s organization, Disability Alliance for Our Rights (ADIDE), IFES used the Intersectionality Assessment Framework tool to examine the barriers young people with disabilities face when engaging in political spaces. In consultation with ADIDE, IFES is developing a political leadership course that will cover topics such as barriers to participation and strategies to overcome them, as well as teach participants about the Dominican Republic’s political and electoral systems.