Youth Participation: a vital step towards an inclusive and democratic civil society

Civil society refers to the space and organizations that exist between the state, the market, and the family.

It encompasses a broad range of organized groups, associations, and movements that operate independently of the government and private sector, working towards the betterment of society and addressing various social, cultural, and political issues. Some key characteristics of civil society are voluntary participation, the right to independence and autonomy, prioritization of public interest, pluralism and diversity, civic engagement and participation.

Examples of civil society organizations include non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, advocacy groups, religious organizations, and grassroots movements. These organizations play a crucial role in advocating for social change, promoting human rights, providing social services, engaging in policy dialogue, and monitoring government and private sector actions.

At the same time, civil society acts as a counterbalance to the power of the state and the market, ensuring accountability, fostering social cohesion, and advocating for the rights and well-being of citizens. It serves as a vital component of a vibrant and democratic society by providing spaces for civic participation, promoting dialogue, and working towards a more just, inclusive, and equitable society.

Civil Society is strengthened by the active participation and engagement of the youth for the following reasons:

  • Youth brings fresh perspectives, creative thinking, and innovative ideas to civil society. They often challenge established norms and offer unique solutions to societal issues.
  • Youth comprise a significant portion of the population and have distinct concerns and interests. By including them, civil society becomes more inclusive and reflective of the diverse needs and aspirations of the community as a whole.
  • By involving youth in decision-making processes, providing leadership roles, and offering mentorship opportunities, civil society organizations can empower young individuals to become capable leaders who can effectively address present and future challenges.
  • Encouraging youth to participate in civil society actively cultivates a sense of social and civic responsibility.
  • Young people often have a strong sense of fairness, equality, and justice, and they can play a pivotal role in advocating for marginalized groups, challenging discrimination, and demanding accountability from those in power.
  • Youth participation in civil society provides opportunities for personal growth, skill development, and empowerment.
  • By involving youth, civil society organizations ensure their continued relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability.