The European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) is a coalition of young political and civic leaders from Central and Eastern Europe with a shared commitment to democratic principles. Created in 2018 as a joint initiative of the U.S. Agency for International Development, National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, EDYN has since grown to include more than 300 members in 23 countries. Drawn from a diverse group of political parties, civil society groups, and media, EDYN members are committed to advancing democratic dialogue and sustaining democratic values while growing their professional skills and experience. “By incentivizing cooperation across the ideological spectrum and steering attention to real problems young people face, we believe we can soften the edges and counter polarization in the public life among future leaders,” said Michal Kovács the Executive Director of EDYN.
Being a civic activist for more than 5 years, I never imagined that the skills I gained at various NDI and EDYN events would actually be used in the real battlefront. My country is at war, which is not only for the future of our nation, but is also for the whole democratic world and for our democratic values. Whenever someone asks me "how is my family?", I always respond that right now my family is 40 million people and they are all in danger. We really tasted the meaning of the word "unity".
Denys Ganzha - EDYN Ukraine Board Member
While EDYN chapters exist in the majority of member countries, the Ukraine chapter is a unique success story. The group first came together in 2019 and has grown from a mere concept into a cohesive organization of political and civically active youth across the country. Over the course of three years, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic and organizational growing pains, EDYN/Ukraine managed to elect a board of directors, develop a strategic plan, conduct outreach to youth across the country, and most recently to register as an official civil society organization with the government of Ukraine.
One of the leading lights of the democratic youth movement is EDYN/Ukraine board member Denys Ganzha, who founded a Kharkiv-based organization "Public Diplomacy Platform" to facilitate workshops, trainings, and debates aimed at getting young people involved in international affairs and diplomacy. Denys was elected to the EDYN/Ukraine board at their first plenary in December 2021. In January 2022, Denys was selected by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to serve as a member of Ukraine’s Youth Affairs Council, where he is helping to advise the presidential administration on engaging youth in political life.
Since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Denys has been involved in coordinating humanitarian support for residents all around Ukraine, as well as raising awareness about the situation in Ukraine through numerous interviews for major international media outlets, including Al Jazeera, BBC, ABC Australia and others. Like many of his EDYN peers throughout the country, Denys is leveraging the organizational, communications, and logistical skills he gained through participation in EDYN to benefit his country, and to build a sustainable democracy that delivers for citizens across Ukraine.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.