Participation of Youth

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Political and Civic Participation of Youth

The May-July 2004 theme is Political and Civic Participation of Youth . This issue highlights projects and organizations around the world that work to promote youth political and civic participation and build the capacity of young activists.

The ideals, energies, and voices of young women and men are vital for the development of society. In order to address issues concerning today's youth, including health, education, environment, employment, human rights, equity and social justice, as well as peace and resolution of violent conflicts, youth voices must be heard by decision makers. A number of civil society organizations, consisting of both young people and their older colleagues, work to promote greater participation of youth in the political, social, and economic life of their societies. This issue highlights the work of such groups.

Projects and organizations listed in this issue are presented as illustrative examples that democracy activists, practitioners, and educators might learn from as they develop their own initiatives. The issue has been divided into six sections found under the menu to the right: Civic Education; Elections and Voter Education; Human Rights; Mobilization and Empowerment; Networking; and Youth in Policy Making.

Civic Education: This section includes groups and projects that provide training and education to young leaders and other youth on democratic principles and practices, such as pluralism, local governance, transparency, and tolerance. Those projects also offer youth the skills for conflict resolution, problem solving, and constructive dialogue to bring an effective change in the social and political lives of their countries.

Elections and Voter Education: Groups and projects in this section encourage youth participation in elections, educate youth on elections, electoral systems, and the importance of voting, as well as study the factors that influence youth's voting behavior.

Human Rights: This section focuses on youth groups that work to promote political, social, and environmental rights of all citizens within their societies and globally. These groups also educate youth on how they can defend and exercise their rights.

Mobilization and Empowerment: Groups and projects in this section promote a culture of democracy by mobilizing and empowering youth to become active citizens, to engage in various campaigns, self-governance structures within their schools, universities, and societies, to think critically about issues affecting their society, and to galvanize reforms in their regions.

Youth in Policy making: This section focuses on groups and projects that promote youth involvement in policy making and strive to ensure that youth voices are heard and incorporated into government' policies.

Networking: This section lists regional and global networks of youth groups and socially and politically active young people. These networks give young people the opportunity to exchange ideas, to cooperate on projects, and to learn from others.

This issue also features an interview with Maria Lisitsyna of the Youth Human Rights Group in Kyrgyzstan. During her interview, Maria shares her experience as a young democracy activist living in Kyrgyzstan. She explains the organizational history of the Youth Human Rights Group, which was established in 1995, including the difficulties it faced as a youth nongovernmental organization and the development of the group's priorities then and now.

In addition, a list of online resources, publications, international organizations, and other useful resources are provided in this issue.

A group of young democracy activists met at the Second Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2000 and discussed challenges facing them and the need for the creation of a network of young democracy activists. A report of the youth workshop in Sao Paulo is available online: www.wmd.org/second_assembly/functional/w-f6.html.

The Network of Young Democracy Activists which emerged at the Sao Paulo Assembly convened a workshop at the Third Assembly of World Movement in Durban South Africa, to review the progress since the Sao Paulo Assembly. The network, which is now called "the Youth Movement for Democracy" and serves as a youth wing of the World Movement, seeks to provide a platform for building contacts among youth activists, information sharing, capacity building, solidarity, research on the best practices of youth activities, and advocacy. The workshop report will soon be available on the World Movement Web site.

Please send us information on work your organization may be doing on political and civic participation of youth so we can consider adding it to the list of projects and organizations. We also welcome your suggestions of online publications, reports, articles and other resources that we may include in our list of resources. Please e-mail world@ned.org or fax to +1-202-293-0755.