The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Generation Democracy Network in partnership with Center for Governance and Leadership (CEGOL) says it is imperative that youths in Malawi, and across the world, should be proactive in their democracies by providing innovative ideas around the areas of civic and political engagement.

The two institutions, through an Action Lab conference which was recently held at Crossroads Hotel in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, among others, provided participants with an opportunity to interact with international experts on building resilient democratic institutions and defending civic space.

Some of the Youth Delegates to the Action Lab

According to Meryl Miner, IRI’s senior youth and inclusion specialist, the 31 participants drawn from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Botswana had hands-on learning lessons that will equip them with requisite stamina in their democratic spaces.

Said Miner: “During the hands-on learning sessions, the participants walked away with new ideas, skills and connections that will empower them to be active members of their democracies.“Participants have also been provided with an opportunity to contribute their innovative idea around youth civic and political engagement to a publication that will be distributed alongside IRI’s involvement in the Eleventh Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy.”

During the Action Lab, participants shared notes with five Generation Democracy members from five countries across the world which included Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina Georgia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Panel Discussion

National Youth Council of Malawi’s (NYCOM) Solomon Mlinda spoke highly of IRI and CEGOL’s initiative saying it resonated with Malawi government’s efforts to appreciate the roles that young people play in defending the civic space.
The inclusion of Youth Participation and Leadership as a pillar in the Malawi National Youth Policy as a demonstration of value and commitment to see to it that young people are able to provide leadership and participate in a range of issues including in upholding democracy and defending civic space is one such effort the Malawi government has achieved,” said Mlinda.
CEGOL executive director, Chimwemwe Kaonga, thanked IRI for convening the Lab in Malawi saying it was a recognition of the efforts that young people in Malawi are investing towards democratic resiliency and defending civic space.

Group Discussions

“The event was a pathway in empowering young people to participate and lead which is essential to the democratic health of all societies,” Kaonga said.
IRI is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy, founded in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan and the United States Congress to foster the infrastructure of democracy around the world.

In 2015, IRI birthed Generation Democracy which is the institution’s flagship youth network – consisting of over 260 young leaders from 74 countries.
Generation Democracy members have access to sub award funding, opportunities to serve as elected officials on the group’s board, and ways to participate in global panels to share their
All attendees to the Lab received a certificate of recognition for their participation in the Action Lab.

Delegates take to the camera in a group photo

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