Generation Democracy: For the Youth, by the Youth

  • Michael Albanese

In April, the International Republican Institute (IRI) hosted 12 young leaders from Generation Democracy’s Global Member Advisory Board (GMAB) to design and implement a strategic vision for the Network’s global and regional priorities. These 12 democratically elected members serve a key role in ensuring that Generation Democracy continues its shift toward becoming a fully youth-led and serving platform by orientating Network activities in a direction that addresses members’ needs and interests.

Since its founding in 2015, Generation Democracy’s growth has been a testament to young peoples’ stalwart commitment to protecting democratic institutions across the globe. To double down on its belief in the power of youth engagement and youth as experts of their own reality, IRI partnered with Network members to develop the GMAB in 2021 to ensure that Generation Democracy is not only for the youth but also by the youth.

How is the GMAB structured?

GMAB members run competitive political campaigns and are democratically elected by the Generation Democracy Network. Ahead of these elections, candidates have access to trainings in political campaign communications and best practices by IRI experts, as well as engage in virtual townhalls with Network members. During the last campaign period, member-to-member engagement increased substantially as candidates connected across the Network to promote their platforms.

The GMAB is composed of 12 individuals, with two representatives from each of the six regions with an IRI presence: Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Each region represented has one member that engages in either regional or global activities. Global Officers focus on the Board’s administration and global activities, while Regional Leaders are responsible for engaging regional members and managing a subaward program that addresses issues identified and targeted by the GMAB.

What is the purpose of the GMAB assembly?

The assembly marked the first time the current GMAB members were able to meet and convene in person at the onset of their tenure. During their convening at IRI’s headquarters in Washington, DC, GMAB members constructed a multi-year work plan for the Generation Democracy Network that will empower the next generation of changemakers to promote freedom both at home and abroad. The Board further deliberated on expanding and improving member engagement, mapped global and regional opportunities to youth engagement, and designed upcoming regional activities using design thinking.

GMAB’s Commitment to Supporting Young Leaders

Since its creation, the GMAB has been committed to raising awareness of youth civic and political activity, supporting members through professional development trainings, and identifying and networking with youth-led and youth-serving organizations. Members took lessons learned at the assembly to their home countries, where they were quick to apply best practices. For example, Khadija Amahal led a workshop in Morocco on developing critical thinking to find solutions to community challenges based on a design thinking program from the assembly.

Over the last two years, the GMAB has taken collective action to advance youth voices globally through regional subawards and events. Two former representatives, Gustavo Murillo Velazquez (Mexico) and Ana Carolina Rodriguez (Panama), facilitated a virtual summit in the fall of 2021 for 100 young leaders to discuss rising dissatisfaction with democracy and the pandemic’s implications for democratic norms across Latin America.

Current GMAB representative Kateryna Dvornichenko (Ukraine) also facilitated a hybrid conference in Tbilisi, Georgia for Generation Democracy Network in Eurasia last fall. This included a series of discussions, presentations, and cooperative exercises on Kremlin disinformation, youth influence in diplomacy, and youth political participation in the region. And when the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, representatives were quick to publish a unified message across social media platforms expressing support for a free and independent Ukraine.

Through effective leadership, the GMAB illustrates how organizations such as IRI can elevate the global youth as agents of change. Investing in youth participation will not only help build strong, resilient democracies, but also contribute to mitigating poverty, improving health and nutrition, and strengthening economies. The GMAB, at its core, seeks to further empower their peers – young changemakers – with the tools needed to better their communities and drive forward meaningful change.

GMAB Members pose for a group photo at the GMAB Assembly at IRI in Washington, DC on April 7, 2022.

The Generation Democracy Network is comprised of over 300 youth spanning across 81 countries—all of whom are testing, replicating and scaling new ideas to advance the meaningful participation of youth in decision-making processes.

Up ArrowTop