The US Department of State announced on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, the launch of the Strengthening Women and Youth Engagement in the Electoral and Political Processes in Mongolia project aimed to elevate the role of women and youth in civil society and the political process.
The three-year project will be implemented in partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI), Asia Foundation (TAF), Mongolian civil society organizations, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, the turnout of voters under 25 in the last parliamentary elections in 2016 was 51%, which was the lowest among all age groups. The fact that nearly half of young voters did not participate in the electoral process, it may be that policy-makers are neglecting the distinct interests of the youth and the issues they face.
Youth civic engagement is defined as working to make a difference in the civic life of one’s own community, and is a marker of human development. A recent Canadian research team from the University of British Columbia found that Mongolian youth understand democracy in theory but are less knowledgeable on their own role in the process. The Mongolian parliamentary elections are around the corner and COVID-19 containment measures are creating barriers for election participation, therefore, proactive and youth specific outreach is required in Mongolia. The study also concludes that if the government provides engagement opportunities tailored directly to youth, they will be able to close the gap between theory and practice by increasing youth civic engagement resulting in a stronger economy.
The new Strengthening Women and Youth Engagement in the Electoral and Political Processes in Mongolia project is beneficial to Mongolian citizens as the voter education campaigns will provide reliable voter information while supporting youth and women political engagement through non-partisan deliberation on political priorities as well as removing obstacles to inclusivity and accountability. The additional USAID assistance will also help bolster citizen engagement and strengthen institutions and bodies engaged in promoting accountability, upholding democratic practices, and delivering public services.
Khaliun Ganbaatar is a research intern in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa pursuing Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree.