Participation and Inclusion

Democratic institutions flourish when all groups of society are represented. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems' (IFES) initiatives around the world seek to increase the participation, influence and representation of citizens in political processes and governance structures. An informed and empowered citizenry is a crucial component of a healthy and resilient democracy. IFES supports a variety of civic education and training initiatives, including informing voters of their rights and responsibilities and conducting leadership and advocacy trainings to empower citizens to have a voice in the way they are governed. A key focus of IFES’ work is inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups, such as persons with disabilities, youth, indigenous groups and ethnic and religious minorities. IFES works to strengthen political participation and inclusion by conducting civic and voter education activities via diverse media, including face-to-face, radio, social media and street theater; providing technical assistance to government officials on how to implement international standards, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; empowering civil society organizations to advocate for equal rights; and assisting citizen-led efforts to define best practices through the development of global tools such as the manual Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes and the online resource ElectionAccess.org.