Our Perspective

      • No democracy without diversity | Heba El-Kholy

        19 Sep 2013

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        Libyan women proudly show their inked fingers after voting in the general national congress elections on 7 July 2012. Photo @ Samia Mahgoub / UNDP

        Some say history repeats itself. In 2004, UNDP issued what I believe is one of the best of its global Human Development Reports, Managing Cultural Diversity. The report argued that managing cultural diversity is one of the central challenges of our time and that policy choices about recognizing diverse ethnicities, religions, languages and values “are an inescapable feature of the landscape of politics in the 21st century.” But we still need to debunk powerful myths, including the one that some cultures have inherent democratic values and are more likely to make progress than others. In 2004, as now, the UNDP HDR report showed there was no evidence to support the trade-off between accommodating certain cultures and promoting democracy. Yet sadly, many people still believe this, arguing that the “Arab Spring” is freezing into an “Islamic winter.” Over the years, I have seen that democracy cannot exist without diversity. My work with civil society and with the UN has convinced me that addressing diversity in its broadest sense remains one of the core challenges of the democracy and development agenda. This is one lesson from the wave of revolutions in the Arab region that took the world by surprise, toppling authoritarian regimesRead More

      • UNDP brings the Social Good Summit to Rwanda | Auke Lootsma

        19 Sep 2013

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        Rwanda's blooming youth population will be part of discussions on how technological innovations, social media and entrepreneurship can support Rwanda’s development. (Photo: UNDP Rwanda)

        The Social Good Summit is a three-day conference where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. Last year, people gathered in nearly 300 cities and 150 countries to discuss how to make progress on local and global challenges. We at UNDP in Rwanda will be part of the bigger conversation about the challenges of the next generation, and how we can address them now. In Kigali on 23 September, we will investigate how key individuals in our country are already pioneering technological innovations to engineer social change that will leave lasting impacts. Young Rwandan entrepreneurs from different walks of life who are an inspiration to the nation will talk about their achievements and how organizations big and small can work together with individuals and national and world leaders to maximize their footprint. As in many African countries, Rwanda's youth population has boomed (65 percent of Rwandans are below 35 years of age). The Kigali Social Good Summit offers a unique opportunity to discuss how technological innovations, social media and entrepreneurship can inspire this youth population to support Rwanda’s development. UNDP Rwanda invited four reputable universities in Rwanda to a live-streamed meet up to connect with the panel and eachRead More

      • Sustaining democracy gains in Rwanda | Auke Lootsma

        16 Sep 2013

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        Close to 75,000 volunteers man the polling stations during the parliamentary elections in Rwanda. (Photo: Guillaume de Brier/UNAIDS)

        Rwanda is widely known for its beautiful landscape, and often remembered for its tragic genocide. But in recent years, I have seen the country make a name for itself as a fast-growing developing country with low corruption, clean and safe streets, and a parliament with the highest proportion of women representatives in the world (52 percent). The upcoming parliamentary elections, from 16 to 18 September, will be held against a backdrop of impressive improvement in the areas of democratic governance and political space. The Government recently passed a series of bills related to media, civil society and political parties to allow these stakeholders to play a stronger role in the democratic process. Candidates on party lists, women’s lists, youth and disabled lists will be vying for the 80 seats in parliament. Almost 6 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots, an increase of 1.3 million voters compared to the parliamentary elections in 2008.   To boost its capacity and save costs, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) will use close to 75,000 volunteers to man the polling stations and ensure the voting and counting is conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner. This has allowed the NEC to bringRead More