International Day of Democracy

Home » News & Activities » International Day of Democracy

International Day of Democracy

AWEPA Newsletter

On September 15, the United Nations celebrates the International Day of Democracy.
This year’s theme is Strengthening Voices for Democracy, aiming to highlight the significance and importance of people’s voices, both expressed directly and through their elected representatives. The ability for people to raise their voices and decide how they are governed lies at the heart of democracy.
The power and importance of democracy for sustainable development and the self-realization of local communities drives AWEPA’s work across Africa. By working in partnership with 25 African and 28 European Parliaments (including the Pan African Parliament and the European Parliament), AWEPA has been working to strengthen the capacities of parliaments in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa for the past 29 years.

To mark the International Day of Democracy, we asked Parliamentarians from both Europe and Africa the following question:

“What do you think the politician’s role is in strengthening the voice of the people in Africa, to establish and maintain a healthy democracy?”

“Women’s participation in politics is indispensable to establish and maintain a healthy democracy. At the moment, only about 20 percent of seats in national parliaments in Sub-Saharan Africa are held by women. This rate is unacceptably low. Through education, women must be empowered to participate actively in politics and represent women’s needs and voices in parliaments.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Petra Bayr
Member of Austrian Parliament
Spokesperson for global development of the Social Democratic party and Senior Parliamentary Advisor for AWEPA’s FGM/C programme


“The role of the politician is to promote Rule of Law and by promoting Rule of Law, the politician is strengthening the voice of the people to know their rights and obligations.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Jasmine Samuel Adakayi
Deputy Speaker of the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly


“The most important thing for successful democratic processes is to build a relationship of trust- the civil society must be able to trust the members of Parliament and their government. And this can only be achieved through communicated transparency, credibility, accountability, independence, incorruptibility, impartiality, objectivity and separation of powers.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Maja Ingold
Member of Swiss Parliament
Vice president of AWEPA, member of Executive Committee
AWEPA head of Swiss Section


“Our role of controlling government action means that we are citizen’s eyes and the ears; we are Representatives of the People. For a country like Burundi, a country marked by 30 years of single-party system, it is important to reflect on pluralism.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Aimé Nkurunziza
Member of the National Assembly of Burundi
Chairman of the Political Committee, Diplomatic Affairs and the East African Community


“Fine speeches which ring out in fine halls and at rich banquets are meaningless and irrelevant if they do not transform the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised.  Parliamentarians must encourage the disadvantaged to participate meaningfully in trade unions, social movements, parent groups, youth groups, church groups in order to further the democratic process.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Maureen O’Sullivan 
Irish independent politician and TD for Dublin Central constituency
AWEPA head of Irish Section


“African women should be enabled to gain knowledge and access resources to build their capacity to become active citizens in their communities. Only if men and women are equally represented, lasting social change is possible.”
Read the full article.

Hon. Sabine de Bethune
President of Belgian Senate
AWEPA head of Belgium Section

“…It is very important that the role of the political class strengthens democracy. Politicians have to be defenders of democracy and transmit its values to their society..”
Read the full article.

Hon. Josep Maldonado
Spanish senator
AWEPA head of Spanish Section