Reposting the Wikihow article on how to celebrate this day…
A parliament does not guarantee democracy, but there can be no democracy without a parliament. ~ IPU The International Day of Democracy (IDD) is held every year on September 15 to celebrate democracy. It was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 and corresponds with the International Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) adoption of a Universal Declaration on Democracy adopted in September 1997. It’s a great day to celebrate and this article will give you ideas of ways to get involved in it.
- Visit your local parliament. If there is an Open Day on offer celebrating IDD, you will be treated to additional information about the IDD. Even where that is not the case, take the opportunity to tour your local parliament or legislature and to learn more about what happens there during working hours.
- Find out what the democracy theme is for the year you’re celebrating. Each year carries a particular theme concerning democracy. For example, in 2010, the theme is “political accountability: strengthening links between parliaments and citizens”. Activities are organized around the theme, and many parliaments pick up on these so that citizens can participate.
- Explore the theme in detail. The information will be provided for you online and in your local parliament, so it is definitely worth making the most of these resources.
- Read the Universal Declaration on Democracy. It can be found at: http://www.ipu.org/cnl-e/161-dem.htm.
- Reflect on what democracy means to you. Write down some ideas of what democracy means to you. You might like to write an essay, a poem, or a short story even. Perhaps seek to have it published online or in print. Think about taking your understanding further by asking yourself (or your friends and family) some questions:
- What elements are most important about democracy from your point of view?
- Do your political or other beliefs impact your view of democracy? In what ways? Is this a good thing or not?
- Do you think that other people have different views of what constitutes democracy from yours? In what ways?
- In what ways do you think political tolerance could be advanced in your country?
- Do you think that your country’s take on democracy is the same as how other countries view it?
- Speak to your kids or to kids you know about democracy. Find out what they understand democracy to mean and perhaps spend some time helping them to create pictures, stories, or even short videos to record their thoughts. If you have their parents’ permission, why not upload their video thoughts onto YouTube? It could be a great way to open discussion and serve as a historical viewpoint in time to come, and it is always eye-opening for “grown-ups” to see how kids view democracy!
- A great question for kids to answer is: “What would you do if you were Prime Minister/the President?”.
- Have kids write letters to their local member of parliament asking anything they’d like to know.
- Find out more about your local member of parliament or your local representative. Can you find out how long they have been in parliament, how long their elected term is, what their policies are, and what committees, etc. they belong to? Check online first.
- Find out how you can contact this person if needed.
- Do you have any questions you might like to send to this person? Contact him or her and share your concerns and views. Your representative needs to know how you are thinking about relevant issues.
- Share your understanding of democracy with others. Perhaps hold a quiz night and party based on the serious topic of democracy! Award prizes for the best answers, and others will be getting an education along the way! (Make sure you know all the answers!) Things to ask people include:
- Do you know the difference between the executive and legislative branches of government? Do you know where the judiciary fits in?
- Do you know how proportional representation works?
- Do you know how to contact your local member of parliament or local representative?
- What would you do if a political matter that impacted you personally arose in your electorate?
- Learn about how to follow your parliament in the news. This can be a good exercise in finding out information first hand, rather than relying on a journalist to filter it for you according to his or her understandings and beliefs.
- Many parliaments broadcast their proceedings on TV, over the radio, and online. Check online first for details, or call your local parliamentary information office.
- Use the Parline database to easily find the websites of 261 parliamentary chambers of 186 countries around the world: http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/parlinesearch.asp.
- Vote. One of the most important parts of being in a democracy is the ability to vote. Exercise your right to vote whenever it is relevant.
- Help other people to learn about the value of voting and help them to get to polling booths if they cannot get there themselves.
- You can download many free resources from the IPU that can help you to celebrate and learn more about the IDD. This includes posters, leaflets, speeches, and documents. All of this is found at: http://www.ipu.org/dem-e/idd/resources.htm. You will find a record of all the past years’ celebrations of the IDD here too.
- Increasing the parliamentary representation of women is another important aspect of ensuring democracy worldwide. Raise girls to believe in their own ability to participate in parliament, to vote, to be a part of the democratic process. Encourage your local member of parliament to support women and to write to local media explaining your support for women in parliament. If you’re a woman who wants to enter the political processes of your country, find out about support systems in place to help you.
Things You’ll Need
- Internet access
- Telephone access or email access for contacting your local member
- Local parliament’s opening hours for general visiting
- How to Conduct a Meeting Using Proper Parliamentary Procedure
- How to Change a Law Through the Democratic Process
- How to Vote
- How to Vote in India
- How to Register As a First Time Voter in the Philippines
- How to Understand Politics
Sources and Citations
- IPU, About the international day of democracy, http://www.ipu.org/dem-e/idd/about.htm – research source
- IPU, http://www.ipu.org/dem-e/idd/yoursay.htm – research source
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