On 8 and 9 December 2011, two interactive workshops took place with local youth in Santa Domingo and Esmeraldas in Ecuador. The workshops were organised by NIMD's local partner Agora Democrática (NIMD-IDEA) and are part of a broader programme, which is called 'Activate' and focuses on stimulating youth participation in politics. The programme is also supported by the Canadian Glynn Berry Programme.
Since the adoption of the new constitution in 2008, a model of participatory democracy has been introduced in Ecuador. The current constitution, but also the National Plan for Development specifically refers to youth participation as one of the priorities and recognises young people as "... strategic actors for the development of the country. The State should guarantee their education, health, housing, recreation, sport, leisure, freedom of expression and association ....”.
A baseline study, done by Agora Democrática (NIMD-IDEA) revealed that the participation of Ecuadorian youth in politics is still very low; young people do not have an interest in getting involved or even to become well informed. This is also due to the lack of compatible tools for youth to stimulate their participation such as internet and other new social media.
The low level of youth participation in a young democratic state such as Ecuador could result in the growing distrust in the political system and a growing gap between society and politics. Therefore, it is necessary to encourage and stimulate active participation of young people in politics, in order to achieve a stronger democratic state in Ecuador. The target group in this project is people between 16 and 29 years old, from selected social organisations, student boards (schools and universities) and national political organisations.
The programme ‘Activate’, which means ‘activate yourself!’, uses three different means in order to stimulate youth participation. The first phase is a series of 12 workshops that take place on a regional level. The first three workshops have already taken place in Riobamba, Santo Domingo and Esmeraldas. The workshops are co organised with the Defensoría de los pueblos - which can be compared with institutes such as the Ombudsman -, the National council for children and adolescents, the Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion (MIES) and CORAPE, a network of 42 communitarian radio stations.
During the workshop the youth was informed on human rights and youth rights in specific. In an interactive way, the youth was challenged to define the barriers to participate. In half a year, the experiences collected in the 12 workshops will be organised and presented during a national seminar. Also the information gathered in the workshops will be used for the production of an awareness campaign produced by CORAPE and distributed through 42 radio stations.
Another tool to stimulate youth to participate is an interactive website (www.activate.ec), where youth can interact and learn about Ecuador’s State institutions and ways to participate. During the project, the website will be filled with experiences of youth organisations and educational information.
Finally, during 2012, Agora Democrática will offer trainings especially for young talented political representatives, in political marketing. The participants will be selected during the prior stages of the project.
If you are interested to learn more about this project you can contact Lizzy Beekman at firstname.lastname@example.org.