“One of President Biden’s top priorities is ensuring that the voices of young people are heard on the major issues and challenges before us, and that their perspectives are reflected in our policies and how we engage with the world,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Summit for Democracy.
Many young leaders across the world are witnessing and experiencing challenges to democracy in their own lives and countries, said Secretary Blinken.
“I’ve listened to their concerns about growing threats to journalists and human rights advocates. I’ve heard their impatience at the persistent bias and discrimination that corrodes our societies, and their frustration about insufficient action to address the existential climate crisis. And I’ve heard their ideas on how we can use cultural diplomacy to bridge gaps in society, how we can create new spaces for young voices, and so much more.”
And young people across the globe are making their voices heard. Last year, tens of thousands of young people led marches against systemic racism around the world. Others are welcoming refugees, monitoring electoral processes, shining a light on corruption, and advocating for human rights.
“The strength of our democracies depends on their success, and it depends on getting more young people to join them – voting, running for office, getting involved in civic life, in making our democracies better,” said Secretary Blinken:
“The United States is committed to a future where all young people can participate and be represented in their country’s decision making. We’re advancing initiatives like USAID’s Global Elections and Political Transitions project, where we connect young people with the mentorship and support, they need to run for office. And we’re helping young people and young leaders develop the skills and connections to serve their communities through programs like the Young African Leaders Initiative, the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.”
Democracy, for all of its challenges, stressed Secretary Blinken, “is the best way to defend, support, and advance human dignity, which is something that drives all of us no matter where we’re from, no matter who we are, no matter what our backgrounds. So, we have a real stake in making sure that this system works, works effectively, delivers for people, (and) shows results.”