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Youth Leaders Gather in Washington for Generation Democracy Global Summit

This June, the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) annual Generation Democracy Global Summit brought together 41 young leaders from 38 countries to identify strategies and exchange best practices on how to help advance democratic reform.

This year was the first time the summit was held in Washington, D.C. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) gave the welcoming address at the U.S. Capitol. House Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) opened the discussion panel on the importance of partnering and collaborating with those who have ideological differences to find common ground in order to work together toward shared goals.

Throughout the three-day summit, participants presented their current work during lightning talk sessions and collaborated on action plans to unite youth locally and globally to build more resilient democracies. “My lightning talk gave me a platform to showcase an upcoming initiative which calls upon the youth of Ethiopia to participate in the coming Ethiopian election. My initiative will inspire youth in Ethiopia to take part in politics and electoral processes by creating awareness of the impact their voices have,” said Feben Tamrat Mengesha, a participant from Ethiopia. “Presenting this in front of youth leaders from different governments allowed me to widen the scope of my initiative and refine our vision,” she added

The Global Summit brings together young leaders such as Peter Ngure (Kenya), Winnie Akidi Adile (Uganda), Ponelo Kalonga (Malawi),  Feben Tamrat Mengesha (Ethiopia), Esther Mamley Tawiah  (Ghana),  Youssouf Ballo, (Mali), Naoufal Didi (Morocco) and Herchi Abdslem (Tunisia) to collaborate to help advance democratic reform.

The summit addressed the importance of public-private partnerships and included a visit to the U. S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Lab to learn more about innovation hubs and discussion sessions with representatives from Facebook, C5 Accelerate, a technology investment firm,  and Making Cents International, a development consulting firm. Peter Ngure, a participant from Kenya, reflected on what he learned from the C5 Accelerate training on pitching his ideas: “The 2019 Generation Democracy Global Summit helped me dig deeper into understanding the space and role of young people in advancing democracies, especially in Africa. My interactions brought to forth the need for young people to be bold and take up space in political parties.” The participants also joined the Young African Leadership Institute (YALI) Mandela Fellows and IRI partners at a networking reception.

Peter Ngure (Kenya), a 2019 Global Summit participant, asks a question during a panel discussion with Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) in Washington, D.C.

This exceptional group of young professionals are on the way to becoming the next generation of decision-makers and will continue to serve as advocates for more robust, youth-friendly policies across the globe. As Lotte Schipper, a participant from the Netherlands put it, “IRI’s Global Summit gave me the experience of a lifetime to meet and share experiences with young leaders like myself from all over the world. My view on the world is broadened and so is my network of young leaders.”  

Through Generation Democracy, our global coalition of nearly 600 youth organizations with members from 70 countries, IRI will continue to support exchanges among young leaders to identify barriers to political participation, so that they can co-develop tools and test solutions to build more inclusive democracies for youth around the world. 

2019 Global Summit participants Khanum Gevorgyan (Armenia), Hizbullah Baryal (Afghanistan), Lotte Schipper (Netherlands),  Rano Abutrobova (Tajikistan),  Srđan Garčević, (Serbia)  and  Dejan Rađen (Bosnia and Herzegovina) give a presentation at the IRI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.