Young persons can be powerful change agents in their communities. Disseminating information on the electoral cycle, volunteering in voter registration drives, observing elections to ensure rights are respected, and forming watchdog organizations are some of the many ways youths around the world are making a difference.
Below is a Q&A with Dr. Dansa Kourouma from Conakry, Republic of Guinea.
Profession: Medical Doctor
Please tell us about your work around the latest election.
During the last presidential election in November 2010, I had the privilege of participating in the electoral process by conducting an outreach campaign targeting youth, with technical and financial support of IFES. It was an innovative program that included civic and voter education caravans and information kiosks. These provided youth with easy access to information on the election. An emphasis was put on maintaining a peaceful electoral environment. I also worked with the National Democratic Institute as part of an observation group of 2,000 observers deployed throughout the country, thanks to my previous work with IFES.
As a member of the National Transitional Council, which serves as the transitory parliament, I also participated in the conception and adoption of the new electoral legal framework, including the constitution and the electoral code.
What motivates you to participate in your country’s democratic process?
I became conscious of the fact that youth are marginalized and practically excluded from the electoral process, with a rate of participation below 15 percent. Youth can also be manipulated and used for political reasons or be taken hostage by discriminatory social policies.
What do youth bring to the table when it comes to encouraging greater citizen participation?
Our struggle increases the credibility of youth and gives visibility to their role in social, political and economic development.
How can we all help foster greater youth involvement?
We can foster greater youth involvement by building the capacities of partner youth organizations and training youth leaders to be more professional. We could also provide more financial support to youth groups and more information on IFES and other international partners.