Inclusive by default: strategies for more inclusive participation

Article by Luiza Jardim and Maria Lucien: “…The systemic challenges that marginalised groups face are pressing and require action. The global average age of parliamentarians is 53, highlighting a gap in youth representation. Young people already face challenges like poverty, lack of education, unemployment and multiple forms of discrimination. Additionally, some participatory formats are often unappealing to young people and pose a challenge for engaging them. Gender equity research highlights the underrepresentation of women at all levels of decision-making and governance. Despite recent improvements, gender parity in governance worldwide is still decades or even centuries away. Meanwhile, ongoing global conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Gaza and elsewhere, as well as the impacts of a changing climate, have driven the recent increase in the number of forcibly displaced people to more than 100 million. The engagement of these individuals in decision-making can vary greatly depending on their specific circumstances and the nature of their displacement.

Participatory and deliberative democracy can have transformative impacts on historically marginalised communities but only if they are intentionally included in program design and implementation. To start with, it’s possible to reduce the barriers to participation, such as the cost and time of transport to the participation venue, or burdens imposed by social and cultural roles in society, like childcare. During the process, mindful and attentive facilitation can help balance power dynamics and encourage participation from traditionally excluded people. This is further strengthened if the facilitation team includes and trains members of priority communities in facilitation and session planning…(More)”.