Ideas for activities
You want to take action, but don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for activities to get you started.
The good old-fashioned discussion
Start by talking to your peers: What concerns do you have about democracy? What are theirs? Why is it important now? What changes would you like to see in your community? This essential step will also help you map the concerns and interests of others and should help you identify an area of action.Take your discussions further: launch a podcast, Instatalk or town hall meeting – others might also want to share and learn.
Learn about democratic citizenship and human rights
You can organise educational activities - training courses, seminars, peer education, meetings with experts - to learn more about the democratic system and institutions in your community or at national level, to learn about human rights, democratic citizenship, youth participation and youth civil society, co-management, democracy in the school, Internet governance and youth participation, international organisations, alternative systems of democratic participation (e.g. direct democracy, sortition) – or anything else you are interested in!
Meet your representative(s)
Organise a meeting with your municipality or parliamentarians from your circumscription and young people. Learn about their work, what youth issues are currently on the public agenda, or advocate for more youth participation and for other issues you consider relevant.
You can also organise a meeting in the format of a fair for young people to meet youth representatives and youth civil society. In many countries, national youth councils exist to represent the interests of young people. Equally, in the Council of Europe, 30 young people representing youth organisations in the Advisory Council on Youth make decisions on youth policy and programmes together with government representatives.
Elections offer an important opportunity to learn more about the democratic system, to take part and to advocate for youth issues to be placed on the public agenda. You can do education and awareness raising for first-time voters, mobilise young people to take part in elections, support young people in standing for office, organise meetings between young people and those running for office, support young people in advocating for youth issues to be included higher up on the agenda, monitor the elections and the electoral campaign.
Don’t forget: local, regional and national elections are not the only elections that matter. How you make decisions in your initiative group or organisation is also important! Do you have a student council? How are the elections there?
Is everybody here?
Racism and discrimination hinder the participation of those targeted as they clearly send the message of not belonging. Democracy is sometimes understood as the “rule of majority”, but modern standards make it clear that minority representation and interests have to be protected. Do an audit of your youth organisation, give voice to the minority youth in your community, or organise a Living Library to challenge prejudices and stereotypes in the community.
News … fake news … no news
A free and independent press is considered to be a key element for a functioning democracy. If citizens are not properly informed about what is going on, then they are likely to make decisions based on limited or biased information. Mass-media has always been one of the first targets of authoritarian governments. However, mass-media is also in decline due to the changes in the media landscape generated by the domination of Big Tech companies (e.g. Facebook, Google). Fake news, misinformation and echo chambers require young people to have a stronger media literacy in order to understand the information they are exposed to. You can consider organising Newspaper theatre to support young people in making sense of the news of the day and its implications, training young people, supporting youth community journalism, and so on.
Get up … stand up…
Direct action is important. Solidarity is key to the success of democratic societies. You can organise a demonstration, a flash mob, or you can volunteer – direct action puts us in contact with others in our community.