International Democracy Day
Democracy cannot be reduced to the periodic holding of elections. Citizen participation, particularly those of women and youth in government remains vital for ensuring broader participation. (photo, UNDP)

In responding to this year’s call by the Secretary General for citizens of the world “to speak out” and “participate”, the Botswana Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and UN facilitated a public discussion with governance practitioners and civil society representatives to commemorate the International Democracy Day, under the theme “Strengthening the Voices of Democracy”

Participants at the forum acknowledged that whilst Botswana was doing well in many aspects of economic development and poverty eradication, much more could be done to deepen democracy in the country.  The legislative framework governing election in Botswana provides significant avenues for citizens to participate in key processes throughout the electoral cycle. 

Highlights

  • While Botswana was doing well in many aspects of economic development and poverty eradication, much more could be done to deepen democracy in the country.
  • IEC reviewed that it has embarked on a number of outreach programmes, including the development of a youth ambassadors’ programme in an effort to broaden participation of youth in democratic processes.
  • Democracy is virtuous in many respects and remains a key guarantor for the protection and promotion of human rights and development.

The lack of gender parity must however be addressed as a priority.
They also emphasized on the role that political parties can to play in promoting women’s participation and their nomination into office as it remained key to the success of deepening democratic principle of wider participation in the country.  The IEC reviewed that it has embarked on a number of outreach programmes, including the development of a youth ambassadors’ programme in an effort to broaden participation of youth in democratic processes.

Promoting good governance and democracy through relevant international, continental and regional instruments and norms remains a priority with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) already reviewing its guidelines for Elections. Democracy however cannot be reduced to the periodic holding of elections. Citizen participation, particularly those of women and youth in government remains vital for ensuring inclusivity and promoting unity.

Participants further acknowledged that democracy is virtuous in many respects and remains a key guarantor for the protection and promotion of human rights and development. From a regional perspective the SADC region remains stable compared to many other areas on the continent and across the globe.

Access to accurate information, increasing the financial independence of civil society organizations, improving the quality of journalism and application of new technologies and social media platforms could amplify the voices of citizens, particularly those of women and the youth should be promoted.

More countries than ever before are working to build democratic governance. Their challenge is to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor, and that promote development. UNDP helps countries strengthen electoral and legislative systems, improve access to justice and public administration and develop a greater capacity to deliver basic services to those most in need.

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