Testing City Limits: Women and Urban Governance

Shari Bryan speaks on a panel on urbanization and the challenges of local government and citizen engagement in New Delhi, March 2015.

Cities, for the first time in history, are now home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population. This is an incredible demographic shift, and in their rise to prominence, urban centers have begun to shape national and global-level discussions. After all, there are now megacities in Asia and Latin America with larger populations than some European countries. These megacities drive more than 70 percent of the world’s economic activity, and some of their local governments are acting across national borders to strike their own trade deals and address climate change issues.

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Kosovo Assembly Endorses the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness

The Declaration on Parliamentary Openness is a call to the world’s parliaments to increase their commitment to citizen engagement in legislative work. Collaboratively drafted by the global parliamentary monitoring community, the declaration has been endorsed by more than 180 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 80 countries. Increasingly, parliaments are also signing on to the declaration. On May 4, the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo formally endorsed the declaration, joining a small vanguard of parliaments around the world.

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Retreat or Revival: The State of Democracy in Asia

Officials open the polls in Indonesia in September 2004.

No single trend -- neither retreat nor revival -- defines the direction of democracy in Asia. We recently have seen a military coup, followed by a ban on political activity in Thailand; in Hong Kong, the government in Beijing has remained intransigent, insisting on its version of universal suffrage; and in Burma, progress toward political reform seems to have stalled as critical elections approach, although constitutional reform remains a possibility.

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The Open Data Community Comes Together to Talk Data, Power, Politics

The Third International Open Data Conference in Ottawa last week brought together more than 1,000 open data advocates from a diverse array of countries and professional backgrounds for discussions intended to add transparency to government Compared with the First International Open Data Conference -- a small gathering of technologists at the World Bank in 2010 -- the event’s growth constituted a clear statement that open data is here to stay and the global community of advocates is growing.

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Four New Resources for Supporting Citizen Participation

Each week, NDI’s Citizen Participation team sends materials to staff around the world that offer practical tools and guiding concepts to consider in their programming. In a rapidly changing world, new ideas and strategies are constantly being developed by practitioners, funders and other organizations. By sharing a digest of our “Citizen Participation Weekly Resource,” we hope to highlight the most innovative and effective knowledge-based approaches to making democracy work.

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Initiative Aims to Ensure Citizen Groups have Access to Election Data

NDI is excited to announce the launch of the Open Election Data Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that citizen groups have access to election data that can give a true picture of an election process, including how candidates are certified, how and which voters are registered, what happens on election day, whether results are accurate and how complaints are resolved.

The Open Election Data Initiative, openelectiondata.net, adapts open data principles that are designed to enhance government transparency in other areas, such as service delivery, to elections. The initiative encourages governments to be more accountable and citizens to take a more active participatory role. While primarily geared toward civil society -- including election monitoring organizations, many of which are partners of NDI -- the initiative can also inform the efforts of political parties, election management bodies and other actors concerned with electoral integrity.

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A Student's Guide to NDI.org and DemWorks.org

Through the website of the National Democratic Institute NDI website, NDI.org, students have access to handbooks on political participation, public opinion polls from many countries, a global elections calendar, and press releases and stories about the Institute’s work around the world. In the publications section students can search by country or topic, such as citizen participation, debate, technology and marginalized groups.

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Going to the International Open Data Conference? Come say hello to NDI

This week, NDI joins thousands of open government advocates, civic hackers, policymakers and journalists in attending the 3rd Annual International Open Data Conference (IODC) in Ottawa, Canada. It is going to be a week of workshops and discussions exploring open data issues and strengthening coordination among open data initiatives. Throughout the week, NDI will be hosting or participating in several events where we'll address how citizens can use data to make government more transparent and accountable. Whether your interests are in opening up election data or in promoting a parliamentary code of conduct, we'd like to talk to you at these events.

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Social Media Insights on Crime and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean

Social media analytics on crime and violence in Honduras. The colors represent the sentiment -- positive, negative or neutral -- associated with the context in which the words pandilleros (gang members) and pandilla (gang) were used.

The words “crime” and “violence” seemingly go together when talking about the Northern Triangle countries of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). The words “data” and “hackathon” go together when discussing technical innovation, intricate computer applications and groups of hackers writing computer code to create the next billion-dollar application. Rarely do these four words merge on the same plane, but when they do, opportunities abound for conversations that have lots to do with innovation and more to do with citizen security and social development. I had the opportunity to take part in such conversations during a USAID-organized hackathon on April 30 and May 1, focusing on security levels in Central America and the Caribbean.

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They Say ‘Why Women’s Political Empowerment?’ and I say ‘What Else?’

Credit: Davit Tomadzea

Georgia lags behind most European countries when it comes to women’s political participation. Only 12 percent of the members of the parliament are women and only 11 percent of those in local councils are women. That is a just a 5 percent and 1 percent improvement respectively compared to parliamentary and local council elections in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Out of 12 directly elected mayors of self-governing cities, not one is a women and all 63 directly elected governors are men. Women make up only 17 percent of the Cabinet of Ministers.

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