Youth & inclusivity
An inclusive democracy means that all citizens should feel represented and heard. However, young people, minorities, and marginalized groups are often excluded from political structures, resulting in a lack of genuine representation in decision-making processes.
That is why inclusivity and diversity are guiding principles across all of NIMD’s work. Through our programmes, we aim to contribute to the active participation of all groups in society and the equal distribution of power and influence, regardless of a person’s age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or ethnic background.
There are more than 3.5 billion people under the age of 30 living in the world today, the highest number in history. Yet despite the size of the demographic and the high levels of political and social engagement among many young people, they remain one of the most underrepresented groups in parliaments.
This is a significant problem given that some of the world’s toughest challenges disproportionately affect young people, including unemployment, environmental degradation, violent conflict, displacement, and insufficient access to education.
Harnessing the political potential of young people and promoting their participation at every level of the decision-making process is crucial if states are to ensure that policies addressing these challenges include the views and reflect the needs of their diverse populations.
At NIMD, youth participation is playing an increasingly central role in our programming, and we strive to find innovative ways to connect to a new generation of politicians and political activists.
Politics in many countries in the world today is dominated by elite groups, their wealth and privilege ensuring their path to power is unhindered. These power structures traditionally exclude people from marginalized groups, who may lack the resources to reach influential positions, or are actively discriminated against when pursuing their political ambitions.
Helping remove those barriers to participation, and equipping people from across all sectors of society with the skills, knowledge, and networks to succeed, is a key goal across NIMD’s work. Our programming reaches out to groups including LGBTQI+ people, ethnic and religion minorities, indigenous communities, people living with disabilities, and people from lower socio-economic and rural backgrounds.
We know the drive that young people and people from marginalized communities have to contribute their energy to develop more stable democracies and prosperous societies, and that their ideas and leadership can help overcome many challenges facing the world today.
But there are a number of barriers to inclusion. Therefore at NIMD our approach is driven by first understanding these barriers, and investing in the research and analysis to identify how our programming can help people overcome the challenges.
Equipped with this knowledge, NIMD works with young people and marginalized groups across the world to empower them to participate, targeting their capacities, skills, interests, knowledge, networks, and connections.
This requires significant innovation. The younger generation are often at the forefront of technological adaptation, and finding methods to reach the demographic in a way that connects with their lives is crucial. With marginalized communities, access to platforms that can help further their political ambitions could be limited, requiring a flexibility in approach to ensure our programmes have maximum impact.
The participation of young people and people from marginalized communities is included in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of all our programmes and policies.
We work to empower the leaders of the future, while making sure all voices are represented today, by:
- Promoting dialogue and learning through best practices on positive measures for political participation. Many of our Democracy Schools and other training programmes now target younger students, while we run dedicated training for people from minority groups.
- Providing technical assistance and lobbying for legislative and policy changes ensuring equal rights and equal participation.
- Promoting equal rights and opportunities for youth, minorities, and marginalized groups when working with political parties and change movements, through capacity building, training, mentoring and coaching.
- Raising awareness and recognition for youth political participation by publishing research, launching media campaigns, and producing audio-visual products that harness the power of youth-orientated medium such as social media, online networks, and art, music and theatre.
- In El Salvador, we ran a Democracy School for young people living with disabilities, empowering people who may face barriers to political participation by providing opportunities to network with other young people from across the political spectrum and pick up new knowledge and skills. Read more.
- In 2020 NIMD Mali teamed up with the Malian blogging platform Benbere to launch the #MaTransition social media campaign, a hashtag for young people across the country to contribute their voice to the transition process after a coup d’état. Read more.