Editor’s Note: The United Nations International Democracy Day (Sept. 15, 2015) is observed every year as a reminder of the universality of democratic values.
To celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, we asked NDI staff, who support democracy worldwide, to share a photograph that best represents the answer to the question: “What does democracy mean to you?” NDI staff are from more than 60 countries, spanning five continents. Over 100 thought-provoking images were submitted by photographers from all around the world, but the following five stood out.
Click here to share via Twitter your answer the question: “What does democracy means to you?” Use hashtag #DemocracyIs.
1. Resilience (Tweet this)
The power was cut, but despite the surrounding darkness a national campaign for education and awareness of citizen involvement training session in Mauritania continued with only the light from cell phones and flashlights. Democracy means resilience. Marie-Ève Bilodeau, NDI’s resident director in Tunisia, took this photo while in Nouadhibou, Mauritania.
2. The freedom to participate (Tweet this)
The intense focus on this individual, captured by Tassos Coulaloglou, senior program officer for NDI’s governance team, at a constituency dialogue in Srey Snam, Cambodia, shows us that democracy means the opportunity to participate. In the faintly blurred crowd, the faces of men, women and children are all represented. These events have allowed thousands of Cambodians to ask questions and voice concerns, as well as learn about their representatives’ responsibilities to constituents.
3. Education for all (Tweet this)
In Afghanistan, literacy and primary school completion rates for young women are far below that of their male counterparts. This photo submitted by Muhammad Akbar Qati, regional manager for Northern Afghanistan inspires hope that the gap could be shrinking. During a class and with smiles on their faces, these Afghan girls freely discuss the concept of democracy. Democracy means education for all.
4. Security and equal representation (Tweet this)
A traditional Mayan ceremony in Nebaj, Quiche, Guatemala, celebrates the launch of the “More Inclusion, Less Violence, ” election observation effort to reduce election violence and illegal campaign activity leading up to the September 6 presidential election. The photo, taken by Sara Barker the resident program manager in Guatemala, shows us that democracy means security and equal representation for marginalized groups.
5. The right to vote (Tweet this)
Women in Nasarawa state, Nigeria, line up to show their permanent voter’s cards, waiting to be accredited to vote in the March 2015 national elections. This photo, which was taken by Ryan Dalton, senior program assistant with NDI’s Central and West Africa team, shows that democracy means the right to vote. In a largely peaceful election, Muhammadu Buhari’s victory over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan marked the country’s first democratic transition of power from one political party to another.