Young people should be offered involvement in responsible and challenging actions that meet genuine needs. They should have the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making. International Day of Democracy is an ideal time to consider how youth engagement with traditional democratic institutions can be increased. The International Day of Democracy is celebrated each year on 15th of September with an aim to providing an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
This year’s theme is Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World which is an opportunity to look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers to the systemic challenges it faces. This includes tackling economic and political inequalities, making democracies more inclusive by bringing the young and marginalized into the political system, and making democracies more innovative and responsive to emerging challenges such as migration and climate change.
With this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizing the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth, believe that meaningful democracy requires the meaningful participation of youth. Young people have much to offer societies from innovation to creativity to new thinking. Their participation in democracy promotes active citizenship, strengthens social responsibility and can enhance democratic processes and institutions. And today’s young citizens are tomorrow’s leaders and decision-makers. As our contribution in observing the International Day of Democracy, we, at WAY, seek to participate in promoting democracy in every way possible by having a sense of responsibility, especially towards the youth, that is to protect their rights and ensure that their voices are heard. Since our establishment, we have recognized and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in both our internal and external activities, including discussions, dialogues, and workshops with the aims of supporting and endorsing youth’s participation in the communities.
Yet young people’s engagement with democracy faces significant challenges threatening the future of healthy democracies. On this day, we would like to reiterate our call to all young people to be responsibly courageous in speaking up their thought and opinion, to contribute in making betterment and positive changes for better world of tomorrow.