August 12, 2019, marked the 20th anniversary of International Youth Day. This year’s theme is “Transforming Education” and in honor of the event, IFES Inclusion Intern Jacqueline Ting highlighted how education influences youth engagement in electoral and political processes. The message was recorded in American Sign Language and an English transcript is available below.
Hello! This past August 12th marked the 20th year celebration of International Youth Day and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is celebrating all month long! International Youth Day is an awareness day recognizing the cultural and legal challenges and conflicts youth around the world face. We celebrate young women and men on their ability to learn, lead and make changes and we recognize the impactful differences they have made in society. This year’s International Youth Day theme is “Transforming Education” and we aim to create more inclusive and accessible education for all youth.
With approximately 3 billion people making up the largest youth generation in history, education plays a significant role in youth engagement in electoral and political processes. Quality education allows youth to be informed, confident and empowered.
IFES finds that a democracy is strengthened when all citizens are informed and have knowledge to engage in decision-making processes. Educating youth around the world of their rights and responsibilities and about the democratic principles molds them into informed citizens. Being an informed citizen gives youth the competence and confidence to become actively involved in the electoral and political process by voting, lobbying and advocating, running for office, observing elections and becoming leaders. Involvement in these democratic processes at young ages can instill a sense of obligation in continued civic engagement and political participation throughout their life. Nelson Mandela once said that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” To educate is to empower and when youth are empowered to participate and have voice in the way they are governed, positive changes happen in their communities for future generations to come.
Transforming education to be more inclusive and accessible is necessary to ensure that youth of every intersectionality, especially those who are marginalized and underrepresented, hold equal opportunity. Teaching youth the importance of engagement in electoral and political processes influences a sustainable democracy.