Demo Finland and its partners organised several events to celebrate UN’s International Day of Democracy on September 15th. The festivities that took place in Nepal, Tanzania and Finland consisted of greetings, speeches, lively conversation, mingling and music.
Demo’s first premiere
In Helsinki, the day began with a morning democracy seminar. After a pause, the democracy day guests gathered to the premiere of Demo’s first documentary film, A Vote for Women. The documentary follows women candidates’ campaigning during the parliamentary election in spring of 2011. The film was produced mainly to support Demo’s work in Nepal and Tanzania, but was received with many thanks by the Finnish audience too.
After the movie, glasses of champagne were raised to honour democracy. One of the party’s higlights was the gig of Koivuniemen Herrat, a Finnish quintet that plays intensive hiphop with a twist of funk.
International guests and locals celebrated together in Nepal
The Joint Youth and Student’s Platform supported by Demo organised an event to celebrate democracy and to higlight the role of youth in democracy development. The event that took place in Garden of Dreams was attended by Finnish and Sri Lankan youth delegates in addition to over 200 locals.
The theme of the evening was “Youth as Champions of Democracy”, which was emphasized in several speeches. Nepal’s new vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Narayan Kaji Shrestha pointed out the importance of co-operation and global solidarity for democracy movements and thanked Demo Finland for its good work in supporting the Joint Youth and Students’ Platform. The chair of Nepal’s Constitution Law Committee Nilambar Acharya spoke for openness and youth collaboration in the globalized world and compared democracy to swimming: “Swimming can be learned only by practising, and a good swimmer must maintain his skills continuosly. Likewise, democracy must be maintained and developed to keep it young and flourishing.
At dusk, a popular Nepalese group Sukarma performed to the audience by performing a song composed particularly to this celebration among some nepalese classics. The whole event was considered to be very succesful. A board member of the Finnish Christian Democratic Youth, Antti Kainulainen, stated that: “Celebrating the International Day of Democracy strenghtens democracy and celebrating it is very important especially in countries that are still looking for a stable and functioning democratic system.”
Facilitating women’s participation in Tanzania
In Dar es Salaam the main event of the Democracy Day was a forum organized by the Cross-party Women’s Platform whose work is supported by Demo Finland. The forum was attended by Finland’s Ambassador to Tanzania, Sinikka Antila, and several high level politicians, members of the constitutional law committee and academics.
The message carried by attendees was the need for true democracy, in which women have equal opportunity to participate in political discussion and decision making. According to the forum some ways to strenghten women’s participation are activating women in casting their votes, raising general political awareness and encouraging media to take more active and more positive attitude towards women’s issues.
Another message emphasized, was the encouragement of women to take a bigger role in their everyday environments. If women will not put forward their message, no one else will either.
The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.
As part of its programmes, Demo Finland organizes exchanges between Nepal and Finland for young politicians. A delegate of Finnish youth politicians explored Nepalese politics and community to share ideas and experiences with local youth between 10th and 17th of September.