What is Democracy? Perspectives from Mali

Democracy around the world is under attack. But, despite the challenges, no other political system actually gives us the same protection, opportunities and freedom. Democracy gives people a real say; it means they are included in the important decisions in their country or communities, and can make their voices heard through dialogue – rather than violence.

NIMD’s #DemocracyIs campaign underlines the value and importance of democracy. By showing some of the the crucial values that lie at the foundations of democracy, we urge people not to take it for granted.

And, by asking people what democracy means for them – what impact it has in their lives – we hope to start a much needed debate around the role of democracy in today’s societies.

For us, democracy is inclusiveness, multiple parties, dialogue, peaceful elections and accountability.

A Malian perspective

When our Mail country representative used the campaign to ask what democracy means to people in Mali, we were overwhelmed with the insight and diversity of the responses.
Many echoed our conviction that democracy is the best system to ensure equality.

“For me, democracy is the best system for running a country because, with democracy, it’s the people who chose its fate.” 

And others focused on the technical definition of democracy, with an interesting historical perspective.

“Democracy is a word which stems from the Ancient Greek words ‘demos‘ and ‘cratie’, which means the power of the people or the majority. Modern democracy is the power of the majority, taking into account basic rights set out after the Second World War called Human Rights under the UN.” 

On the other hand, many people, like us, highlighted on the values inherent to democracies, and the importance of those values:

“What is democracy for me? Democracy is the right to speak without reprisals; it is discussion without fear. It’s source of power is the will of the majority of people who adhere to this concept, also taking minorities into account.”

Find Mirjam, our Mali Country Representative, on Twitter for more responses. Or, share what democracy means to you using #DemocracyIs.