Although recent Liberian elections have generally been pronounced free and fair by the international community, studies show that even more than a decade after the end of armed conflict, some voters vote out of fear and ignorance. This is particularly true of rural women and youth, many of whom are illiterate and have no access to civic or voter education. This, in turn, contributes to wider governance challenges and corruption.
Democratic Republic of Congo, UNDEF supports a project that promotes participatory democracy by creating clubs for Democratic Action. The project is implemented by the Organization Peace, Unity, Reconciliation, Reconstruction (OPURR). With funding from UNDEF OPURR was chosen to awareness and voter education during the presidential and legislative elections in November 2011 in the DRC. Democratic Action Clubs have been established throughout the city of Kinshasa.
The Big Issue Lagos, a new and pioneering Nigerian street magazine funded by UNDEF, was launched in November 2011. It is the part of an UNDEF-financed six-country project to use street papers to give marginalized people a platform from which their voices can be heard, encourage active democratic dialogue, and empower citizens to participate in conversations on democracy, human rights and development at local, regional and international levels. The Nigeria paper will also provide much needed jobs and training to people living in poverty in Lagos.
UNDEF funded and supported the organization of a conference in Cairo on 26-27 July on "Ways to Strengthen the Democratic Transformation of Egypt". The conference, held by The Cairo Institute for Human Right Studies in partnership with the Madrid-based think-tank FRIDE, drew more than 100 participants from Egyptian civil society, political parties and academic institutions as well as a number of foreign observers.
After 12 years of civil war in Burundi, the challenge is to keep addressing the divisive factors that drove the country's brutal armed conflict, while finding ways to nurture the country's fragile democracy. An UNDEF funded initiative trains women to take up leadership positions, and thus improve governance in the country as a whole. The project, implemented by Search for Common Ground, just launched a new radio series specifically for and about women leaders in the public and private sector.
Somalia is one of the world’s most challenging environments in which NGOs can operate. A new project funded by UNDEF in Somaliland works to raise women’s awareness of their rights and how to exercise them. Implemented by the local Women’s Integrated Network, the initiative develops the capacity of a core group of young professional women to train, support and assist women working in markets and shepherding. It works through consultation sessions such as this one at Hargeisa market.
Ensuring women's participation will be key to building a democratic and well-governed Egypt. Although women were granted full political rights more than 50 years ago, they have yet to achieve equal access to decision-making positions and participatory democracy. An UNDEF-backed initiative aims to strengthen women's participation, including in the coming elections.