By Sheryl Christine
My definition of democracy could be generated from the things I see around me as a youth, the failed government, poor public involvement in decision-making, a system that fails its people, and a too meddlesome government, my friends call it a “Simping Government” in the judicial system and other countries affairs. I see, a world increasingly driven by technology and interconnectedness that has enabled us to stand at the precipice of a digital revolution in the realm of democracy and citizenship.
When I asked my friend from UAMUZI to rate the level of democracy he said he’ll give it below 50%. I was startled.
“But why?” I asked. He went ahead and told me that democracy in Africa is not elusive and despite having the right to vote every five years, our systems are not democratic since they don’t allow us to be directly involved in decision-making processes. This a clear indication that as a nation we are in a very bad and sorry state and we’re slowly dwindling and our power is becoming meaningless to other nations economically, socially, culturally, and politically. Therefore, democracy for me is a government of laws presided over not by fewer individuals but by the larger population.
Pro-democracy activists have and will rely on open internet access. To utilize apps, social media, and technology to raise awareness, recruit activists and organize protests. This generation of youths represents a crucial demographic that not only shapes the present government but also shapes the foundation for the future which could only be by using digital platforms effectively.
Providing advanced civic engagement; social media platforms often offer safe spaces for most of this generation a lot, where they can express their concern, ideologies, and goals in life and this is an opportunity to be used to empower youth by creating channels for meaningful youth participation in crucial decision-making, policy-making and implementation policies and youth friendly initiatives. This space can also help them with online activism where they can address issues that go within the government.
Empowering the youth on digital literacy and education; where youths get to be taught how to navigate and get critical digital literacy skills and civic tech education so that they can analyze critical, reliable, and unreliable sources of information and be able to understand the role/impact of media in democratic processes. Also, for the youths to understand how to use social media for civic engagement effectively.
.Representation, inclusion, and access to information sharing; empowering the next generation here means that the digital platforms are designed with accessible features so that even people with disabilities can also be able to use them and everyone can actively participate in online civic engagement and this will also enable every group including the marginalized and underrepresented to be able to diversify their voices since they can get the right information and share it meaningfully.
.Policy impact and influence; this could be by empowering the next generation on digital advocacy campaigns that focus on policy and policy implementation and also be used to push and influence decision-makers and contribute towards a transformative, positive society.
E-Government and civic services; will enable the delivery of civic services and information in an accessible manner, where the next generation through online voter generation, has access to government services and participation in public consultation.
Digital advocacy for human rights; and these spaces should enable the next generation by creating awareness about advocating for justice, and support movements that advocate for human rights, equality, fairness, independence, and accountability in the judicial system of the country. and this will also help the youths to connect with global movements towards creating solidarity in addressing shared challenges.
Leveraging this technological space is very important for the next generation since technology has become a very integral part of young people’s lives and growth since they prefer to get all their work such as voting and learning, done online. So, fostering an active, just, and equitable participation in civic life will recognize the potential of digital platforms in enabling democracy to be accessible, accountable, and engaging to a very diverse population of youths. There’s no us without us. The youths are the future and it is time we engage them meaningfully to create change in this country and the global south as well.