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Young people are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, and while women are often disadvantaged in accumulating experience to run for office, young people are systematically marginalized because of their young age, limited opportunities, and projected lack of experience. As the increased political participation of women benefits society as a whole, the presence of young people in decision-making positions benefits all citizens and not just youth. The Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) reports that people between the ages of 20 and 44 make up 57% of the world’s voting age population but only 26% of the world’s Members of Parliament (MPs). Young people under 30 represent 1.9% of the world’s MPs and more than 80% of the world’s upper houses of Parliament have no MPs aged under 30. While young people often play central and catalyzing roles in movements for democracy around the world, they are less engaged than older generations in voting and party activism. Together, these trends have inspired many international organizations to study the lack of youth political participation and train youth activists to become political leaders.  

Recognizing the potential of youth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed its first-ever Youth Strategy (2014–2017), called “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future”, in line with the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Youth (2013) which calls on young generations to become more involved and more committed in development processes. 2013 also saw the publication of the “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle: A Good Practice Guide“, UNDP’s first review of programming strategies for youth political participation beyond the ballot box. In 2016, to further boost the implementation of UNDP’s Youth Strategy and respond to both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, UNDP launched a Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace – Youth-GPS (2016–2020). The Youth-GPS focuses on civic engagement and political participation, among other areas, and responds to the concerns young people have expressed in global, regional and national forums and the growing demand at all levels for cutting-edge and strategic support in youth programming in all development contexts. In 2016, as a joint initiative of a number of partners including UNDP and IPU, the “Not Too Young To Run” global campaign was launched to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.

In 2010, IPU adopted the resolution “Youth participation in the democratic process” at its 122nd Assembly and in 2013, established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians. Since then, IPU published two studies, one in 2014 and another in 2016, using a questionnaire to gather data from its Member Parliaments around the world on youth participation in national parliaments. Through these studies, IPU provides a number of recommendations for action which, if acted on, will ensure young people are fully engaged in politics. These include designing strategies by national parliaments and political parties that target the inclusion of young MPs and ensure diversity among youth, addressing the disparities between the number of young men and young women entering parliament. IPU also recommends to align the minimum age for parliamentary candidacies with the minimum voting age and to establish youth quotas (e.g. reserved seats, legislated quotas, party quotas) as a means of increasing the number of young MPs. In 2016 the IPU membership endorsed the document “Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth”, based on the principles promoted by the young parliamentarians of the IPU: “No decisions about us without us”, that outlines how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy and give the world’s young people a voice in political decision-making.

In addition, UN Women established the Youth Forum at the CSW in March 2016, allowing global youth representatives to discuss the issues they face and to reflect on ways to help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5 on gender equality. UN Women also published CEDAW for Youth in 2016, a youth-friendly version of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) elaborated by young people. International IDEA published in 2016 a report entitled “Increasing youth participation throughout the electoral cycle: entry points for electoral management bodies” documenting the challenges and practices directed at youth inclusion in politics and within different electoral processes.

Objective of the e-Discussion

This e-Discussion seeks to bring the voices of the iKNOW Politics and UNDP4Youth communities into this growing debate on youth participation in politics. Please join the e-Discussion from 03 April to 08 May 2017. Students, young parliamentarians, political party and social movement activists, civil society representatives, youth movements and networks, government and international organizations representatives, and academia are invited to contribute with their experiences by answering to one or more of the below questions. The submissions will contribute to the elaboration of a Consolidated Reply that will augment the knowledge base available on the topic of youth political participation. We look to an informative knowledge-sharing exercise on this topic.


  1. How do you explain the low representation of young people in parliaments and governments around the world?
  2. What is an enabling environment for young people’s participation in politics, in particular young women?
  3. What can parliaments, governments, political parties, and civil society do to increase young women and men’s representation in politics? Do you have examples of good practices?
  4. What are some of the most innovative alternative methods (marches, sit-ins…) to formal political participation that young people choose to bring about change and be heard?
  5. How can we support more young people who would be interested in channelling their activism through formal political institutions?
  6. What strategies and approaches have been successful in recruiting young men and women in political parties?
  7. What can be done to support young MPs in their parliamentary career? Please share any initiatives you are aware of.
  8. How can young parliamentarians better address gender equality and women’s empowerment? Are youth more likely to be active in combatting discrimination and gender based violence?
  9. How can we best measure youth political participation and policy influence? 

Please note that there are different options to send your contributions:

  1. Login with your iKNOW Politics member credentials. If you are not a member yet, please sign up using the profile icon on the top right of this page. Please check your email to confirm registration. Once a member, you will be able to use the comment section. 
  2. Use the below comment section by signing in with one of your social media accounts.  
  3. Send your contributions to
Click here to access the summary of the e-Discussion.

The first Summit for Democracy, held in December 2021, brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set out an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal. Between the first and second Summit, the ‘Year of Action’ is an opportunity for governments to begin to implement their commitments to democracy made during the first Summit, with the help of civil society and democracy support organisations.

The co-leadership of the Youth Political and Civic engagement cohort by the European Commission, Ghana, Nepal, the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), AfricTivistes, and The European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) underscores the importance of promoting Youth ownership of the Democratic values’ legacy.

International IDEA, in collaboration with the European Commission (EC) and the Youth Political and Civic Engagement Cohort of the Summit for Democracy (S4D), would like to cordially invite you to an event on the S4D taking place on 15 November on-line. We hope you can join us.

The Year of Action online peer-to-peer dialogue Promoting the role of youth in political and democratic spaces event will explore commitments on youth presented by governments at the S4D. It will offer an opportunity for discussions between European Union (EU) and non-EU governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and other relevant stakeholders on youth and political participation, and on youth, digitalisation, and on-line electoral integrity. The dialogue will further explore lessons learnt and identify opportunities for further engagement for this Year of Action. It will feature speakers from EU institutions, government representatives from EU Member States, Africa, and Latin America, CSOs and non-governmental organisations.


Online event for representatives from EU, EU Member States, EU Member States permanent representations, EU delegations, Team Europe Democracy organizations, civil society organisations, S4D focal points of non-EU countries.

Click here to access the video.

Sara Mohammad Falaknaz is Member of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates.

This interview was conducted on 7 September 2021, in Vienna (Austria), during the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.

Click on the Settings button for subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Sahar Albazar is a Member of the Egyptian Parliament and the President of the IPU Forum of Young Parliamentarians.

This interview was conducted on 6 September 2021, in Vienna (Austria), during the 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament.

Click on the Settings button for subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

By Rosemary Bassey

Abiodun Essiet is the Special Adviser to the chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) on ICT/Civil Societies and Donor Agencies. She is a gender advocate, women leader of Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and a public health consultant. In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, she speaks on her ambition to run for vice-chairmanship of Abuja Municipal Area Council and the changes she hopes to bring.

Click here to read the full interview

In this continuation of a conversation from the last episode, host Yasmin Bendaas explores the challenges of being a Muslim woman in today's political landscape with Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam and grassroots organizer Leila Ali of Muslim Women For. They discuss how their activism is influenced by their faith, the burden of representing the entirety of the Muslim community, and what their message is for young Muslims who also want to step into politics.

Click here to access the podcast.

With half of the world’s population under 30, the continued survival of democracy globally is overwhelmingly dependent on youth support.

Today, democracy faces a public confidence problem that disproportionally affects youth. After decades of not seeing democracy work for them and politics appearing out of their reach, many young people simply disengage from political and civic life. Democracies around the world increasingly recognize that in order to rejuvenate pluralistic democracy, young people need to be given the means to participate in all aspects of democratic politics.

In this context, the Youth Political and Civic Engagement Cohort – part of the Summit for Democracy’s Year of Action – was launched to take action toward implementing the Summit’s commitments vis-à-vis youth political and civic engagement. As a multi-stakeholder platform with over 50 member organizations from governments, IGOs, and civil society, the Youth Participation Cohort is committed to actively contributing to the Year of Action by broadening the evidence base on youth participation.

As part of the Youth Cohort’s leadership group, the European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) and the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) have spearheaded the creation of the Cohort’s Youth Participation Handbook.

 Click here to see it.

Despite progress, women continue to be under-represented in positions of power and leadership in Government, Business, and public life. This picture is even worse for BAME women, LGBTQ+ women, disabled women, and women who experience additional inequality. We will only be able to truly address all of the issues we face as a society when we have diverse representatives that reflect the communities we live in.

LeadHerShip aims to ensure that women become better represented in such decision-making roles and provide women with a platform so that their voices are heard, and they are inspired to see themselves as future leaders.

There are three LeadHerShip programmes. Chwarae Teg will provide young women with shadowing opportunities in national politics at the Assembly, local politics at various local councils, and in business following female leaders at a variety of Welsh businesses.

Click here to learn more. 

As Libya struggles with continued political conflict and economic turmoil amid the COVID-19 pandemic, young women who want to contribute to peacebuilding, political processes, and economic reconstruction face serious obstacles. Their marginalization inhibits prospects for a sustainable peace and reconstruction, as political settlements that fail to include all age and gender demographics tend to perform worse over the medium and long run.

This policy brief summarizes some of the challenges young Libyan women face and offers recommendations for international, national, and local stakeholders. The challenges and recommendations outlined here are drawn directly from a series of conferences held with and by young Libyan women, and were developed through further research and consultation.

Click here to access the paper.

Running Start’s flagship program introduces high school girls to the power of political leadership. It includes workshops led by experts about public speaking, networking, fundraising, on-camera media training, and advocacy. Women candidates and elected officials speak about what it is like to run as a young woman, how to get involved on a local level, and why it is important to get more women elected. The goal of the program is to encourage the girls to channel their leadership skills into politics.

This program has been held in Washington, DC, since 2007. Over the years, more than 40,000 young women have applied. Other YWPL trainings have been held in California, New York, Michigan, and Sierra Leone.

Click here to learn more and apply. 

Specifically designed for electoral management bodies (EMBs), this publication acknowledges the crucial role EMBs play in ensuring that all segments of the society, including youth, are empowered to fully participate in the electoral process, be as voters, candidates or officials.

The handbook provides strategies and entry points to assist EMBs in removing existing barriers for youth electoral participation at different levels and in different areas, including the national legal and political framework and youth’ lack of confidence in national institutions. The publication also explores how EMBs could capitalize on innovative solutions to make electoral processes more inclusive and peaceful and to prevent youth from being incited to electoral violence by political parties. Finally, the handbook links these objectives to the outcomes and indicators of SDGs, in particular Goal 16.

The handbook is published by the Brussels-based EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance (JTF) and made possible thanks to the support of the UNDP Nepal Electoral Support Project, generously funded by the EU, Norway, the United Kingdom and Denmark.

Click here to access the publication.