Despite constituting 56 percent of the global population, youth continue to be underrepresented in political and civic participation. Through International Republican Institute’s (IRI) flagship youth network, Generation Democracy, 280 members and 50 alumni from 80 countries have access to opportunities that increase their capacity to effectively mobilize young people, champion democratic reform, as well as tackle barriers to meaningful youth participation to build more resilient, responsive, and inclusive democracies.
Generation Democracy Global Member Advisory Board
In order for programs to be relevant, authentic and responsive to young peoples lived realities, young people must be involved in designing, implementing and evaluating activities. The Generation Democracy Global Member Advisory Board (GMAB) is a group of 12 Generation Democracy members democratically elected by the Network to design and manage activities that address the Network’s global and regional priorities. IRI seeks feedback on Network activities through monthly meetings, as well as provides GMAB members with funding opportunities for both regional and global activities. Recognizing the young people are the experts of their own reality, these pots of funding have flexible parameters, giving members space to determine what activities they want to pursue as Network representatives.
Generation Democracy’s Approach
To promote the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes, Generation Democracy connects members with peers and possible partners to collaborate and share insights; equips members with tools and resources to advance youth participation in civic and political processes; and empowers members through opportunities to put learned skills into action.
Through the virtual Participatory Budgeting Working Group, GenDem member Aline (Mexico) learned from Nishchhal (Nepal) how he used participatory budgeting strategies to respond to the 2015 Nepalese earthquake. Aline used these lessons to implement a participatory budgeting program in Mexican schools alongside two other GenDem members.
Using social media skills learned at the 2017 Global Summit, Tarmizi (Malaysia) learned how to engage youth across the political spectrum online, which gave him the contacts to create a political party in 2020.
Sitabile (Zimbabwe) gained the confidence attending the Johannesburg Academy to start her own organization, which has trained 5,890 aspiring women leaders.
Blerina (Albania) used GenDem grant funding to host the Tirana Youth Delegation Summit for young people from Albania’s preeminent political parties and civil society organizations. The output of the event was a “National Declaration” requesting specific objectives to empower Albanian youth, which was shared with Parliament and built into the Youth Law.