Participants at the roundtable in London discussed opportunities and challenges
Regional networks can provide a valuable tool for social democratic activists, as well as a practical expression of the solidarity across borders our politics espouses. Projects such as the Women’s Academy for Africa and the SD9 network of young social democrats in the Western Balkans have offered space for exchanging ideas, giving practical support to marginalised voices, as well as empowering activists to compete in elections and enhance democracy in their societies.
Taking inspiration from these examples, a roundtable event took place in London for young social democrats from Africa in December. The aim was to explore the possibilities for a regional youth network for participants from sister parties in Africa.
The roundtable discussed the levels of youth participation in the political parties, in politics and society in the respective countries. The group heard positive examples ranging from advocacy work for a national youth policy, to the election of two of the participants as MPs at recent elections.
They heard lessons from the Balkan region of the establishment of the SD9 network of social democratic youth organisations, the achievements it had made, the challenges it faced and how it is looking to move forward, as well as insights on the experience of Young Labour in the UK.
There was a clear willingness to establish a network, and continue the contacts made. Whatever the next steps may be, this roundtable marked a good first step in supporting those active in championing youth participation in political life and in their societies as a whole.