A strong democracy includes those at the margins.
In many countries, large portions of the population — youth, people with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, and the LGBTI community — are politically marginalized because of entrenched social stereotypes or cultural biases. NDI supports efforts that eliminate the range of barriers facing these marginalized groups to give them a voice in mainstream politics. Read more about NDI's approach to political inclusion for marginalized groups»
In Jordan, bi-monthly discussion groups on democracy and human rights involve some 4,400 students at 14 universities. As political activity is banned on university campuses, these discussions provide a rare opportunity for students to actively engage in conversations about political reform in Jordan. Through NDI's Ana Usharek ("I Participate") program, the students meet with decision makers and members of parliament in roundtable and town hall meetings, and visit local organizations to discuss issues ranging from parliamentary elections to economic reform. They are also engaged in more than 15 youth-driven advocacy initiatives that range from lowering the age of candidacy for parliament to building ramps for disabled students at universities. The program culminated in the nation's first collegiate debate contest, with teams from each university competing in front of their peers on a national stage. Two students from the advanced Usharek+ program went on to organize a debate between MPs and their communties. Read more about NDI's work with youth»
More than 80 percent of the world's people with disabilities live in developing and post-conflict countries, where they often are unable to influence decisions affecting their welfare. In Macedonia, NDI helped train a national organization for people with disabilities, Poraka, on public outreach, media relations and legislative advocacy. The organization's campaign culminated in the parliament's ratification of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which grants citizens equal treatment under the law. Read more about NDI's work with people with disabilities»
In Slovakia, Peter Pollak made history in 2012 when he took a seat in parliament as the first Roma citizen elected to nationwide office. In a region where many Roma are deprived of basic human rights, Pollak's victory marked the culmination of a decade-long journey of grassroots organizing, coalition building and near misses at the ballot box. In 2001, Pollak participated in NDI's youth leadership academies, learning skills he used to pursue a political career and connecting with like-minded activists across the region. In 2005, he ran in regional elections, conducting the first door-to-door campaign in segregated Roma settlements. He lost by 200 votes, but undaunted, he ran again in 2009 for the regional government. Again, he wasn't successful, but the campaign increased his visibility among both Roma and non-Roma voters. Finally, in 2012, Pollak was elected to the national parliament. "One of the reasons I was elected...is the fact that a strong mainstream party — though new and not very traditional — put me in a high position on the electoral list and supported me as a Roma candidate publicly," Pollak said. It was his high visibility and political skills that landed him there. Read more about NDI's work with Roma»