In October, 2015, Generation Democracy hosted its first event outside the U.S. in Dakar, Senegal and brought together 45 young leaders from the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal for a collaborative conference and advocacy skills workshop.  

Generation Democracy, IRI’s youth initiative, is a global coalition of young people and more than 270 youth organizations in 75 countries around the globe that engages, empowers, and connects youth across borders to share their ideas, experiences, and best practices on youth political participation in order to cultivate the world’s next generation of democratic leaders.  A primary goal of Generation Democracy is to highlight the voices of our members, who are working tirelessly to expand the political rights of young people around the globe.  One of our amazing members is Mr. Bakary Sidibé, a young man who is heavily involved in Mali’s youth political movement.

Please read the interview below as the third entry to our new campaign to tell the stories of our members, “Meet the Future.”

What is the name of the youth-focused organization that you are a part of?

Ans: I am the political assistant of the Parti Front Africain pour le Développement au Mali.  This political party was created by youth and is composed solely of youth.

What initiatives has your organization taken part in that you are most proud of?

Ans: Our organization’s goal is to stress the importance of youth initiatives and encourage youth to participate in political life in Mali. [Another] goal of our organization is to sensitize youth against religious extremism, while in the same instance instilling the spirit of patriotism and national unity.

What is your vision for your country’s future?

Ans: My vision for Mali’s future is, on the one hand, to bring the maximum number of youth into the political sphere – not as voters, but as candidates since young people constitute 55 percent of Mali’s population; and, on the other hand, to encourage youth to promote local and participatory democracy, especially with the new “regionalization” governance system that my country will soon adopt.

How can youth achieve that vision?

Ans: Youth can help to achieve this vision by working on sensitization campaigns, having general political awareness, exchanging ideas and taking part in advocacy initiatives.

What is your initiative doing to achieve that vision?

Ans: Our initiatives encourage the implementation of this vision through forums and meetings emphasizing the importance of political participation and encouraging youth to actively participate in governance and play a larger role in [political] decision making processes.

Why is bringing youth together from around the world important?

Ans: Young people around the globe must unite in order to have effective political leadership and address the challenges facing democracy and political governance, as well as economic and social life.

How can youth change the world?

Ans:  Youth can change the world through peaceful political leadership based on the promotion of democracy and a full respect for human rights.

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