To help new voices tip the scales, NDI launched a global campaign to champion the political aspirations of young people, advance democratic practices that center the interests of young women and young people with diverse identities and strengthen intergenerational political collaboration. The “Speak Youth to Power” campaign emphasizes the need for young people to translate their power into sustained influence over political decision-making today if they are expected to demand and defend democracy in the future.
Young people around the world are set to inherit an array of complex challenges and their socio-economic opportunities are increasingly limited. They must also contend with entrenched power holders and limited opportunities to access and shape decisions affecting their welfare. For young women and young people with diverse identities, including young people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ youth, and Indigenous youth, barriers to participation are compounded and exacerbated by multiple forms of marginalization. Despite adult perceptions that young people are apathetic and incapable, they are assuming leading roles in political demonstrations and movements around the world. Today’s young people are politically interested; they are simply less inclined to engage with “politics as usual” using formal democratic avenues of participation or interacting with decision-makers who are unwilling to acknowledge their needs and interests.
Through this campaign, NDI will:
Increase the visibility and impact of young people’s contributions to politics and bolster youth participation and influence in decision-making spaces.
Collaborate with young people who are traditionally underrepresented, especially young women and young people with diverse identities, to increase their faith in democratic institutions and pathways to power.
Educate and collaborate with current gatekeepers to power so that they understand the benefits of true power sharing with young people and put it into practice.
Join us as we work with young people and partners to #SpeakYouthToPower!
Today’s generation of young people needs a new social contract - an improved relationship between citizens and government, guaranteed to be inclusive of diverse voices while taking clear steps to address sustainable development challenges. Read NDI’s piece on the state of youth political participation and what can be done to “meet young people where they are” and better support young people’s innovation, activism and leadership across sectors.
Solidarity Across Generations
Intergenerational collaboration is an essential dimension of changing social norms and creating opportunities to share decision-making power. In order to transform politics, young people need acts of solidarity in both informal and formal political spaces that demonstrate a real commitment to changing the status quo. Through a multi-media campaign, NDI will highlight barriers to intergenerational collaboration and critical components of establishing meaningful partnerships, such as collaboration on shared interests and sustained mentorship. NDI identified several commitments that can shift norms of political collaboration between young people and older generations. Click the link below to learn more and join us in our efforts to support solidarity across generations!
Youth In Focus Roundtables
As part of the Speak Youth to Power campaign, NDI is partnering with organizations around the world to convene a series of Youth In-Focus roundtable discussions. The roundtables gather young activists and youth development practitioners across regions and disciplines to share strategies for helping young people gain power and influence. Participants will also examine pressing socio-economic issues and barriers that limit youth participation. The roundtables will also center voices that are most impacted by the issues but often excluded from decision-making spaces, specifically young women, young people with disabilities, LGBTQI+ youth, and Indigenous youth.
In partnership with Disabled Peoples’ International and the Arab Forum for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, NDI organized a roundtable on November 30, 2021, examining youth inclusion in the global disability movement. People with disabilities across generations discussed challenges and opportunities for engendering relationships between activists within the disability movement. The roundtable also spotlighted the challenges young people with disabilities face when they try to exercise their agency and leadership.
Bridging the Divide
Bridging the divide between young people and political parties requires new strategies that recognize young people’s legitimate concerns about formal institutions and the different ways in which young men and women want to organize politically. It also requires political parties to meet young people where they are. In response to emerging trends, NDI is examining:
- Youth disaffection and its potential implications for democracy support;
- The contextual factors to consider in identifying strategic entry points for meaningful collaboration between young people and political institutions;
- The types of actors best suited to serve as interlocutors between young people and political institutions; and
- The types of interventions and/or programming that could help bridge the gap between young people and political institutions.