Drawing Democracy Worldwide

Featured Community Voice: Global Democracy Day

In 2007, the Global Democracy Day Initiative, an organization devoted to creating an International Day of Democracy, staged a competition for youth around the world to illustrate what democracy means to them. The three entries chosen as winners explore different applications of democracy from gender equality in the home to the importance of individual participation. Take a fascinating look into what democracy means to young people from different walks of life.

1st prize ‘Democracy starts at home' -- Ongua Benard, Arua, Uganda. Near the bottom, the illustrator has written, "Non democracy practice in the family." View Larger >


2nd prize ‘People are the pillars' -- Abigail Machila, Lusaka, Zambia. The illustrator's handwriting reads, "Authority to rule comes from the people, Accountability to the people by those who hold formal powers in Zambia, therefore participation is responsible for keeping our societies afloat." View Larger >


3rd prize ‘State House is the people's house' - Mphaso Sakala, Zambia. The sign held by the woman says, "'We Rule' Please!" The sign in front of the building says, "Welcome to PLGY 1," which indicates the State House in Zambia. View Larger >
First prize

‘Democracy starts at home' -- Ongua Benard, Arua, Uganda

Members of the jury reflect on the work:

"Democracy on a national or local level is not immediately dependent on democratic family structures and gender equality. And then again: How can a repressed woman be able to be involved in society if she dare not speak her mind in her own home?

"The illustration is precise and direct. It is also sad and thought-provoking--the more you look at the drawing, the more alarming it becomes. How do they feel in that family?"

"The illustration makes a clear and comprehensive example to symbolise what democracy is about. The message is condensed in a concrete example that is easy to relate to rather than an intangible discussion of the concept of democracy."

"A short motivation, but strong and expressive in interaction with the illustration."


Second prize‘People are the pillars' -- Abigail Machila, Lusaka, Zambia

From the jury:

"The illustration sends a clear message. It tells us that people are the pillars -- the authorization to govern comes from the people."

"It is important to remember that democracy requires something of everybody. It is important that both the people and the elected representatives take responsibility, this is symbolised well in the drawing as well as the motivation."

"Democracy is as simple as that. And so difficult. It is the recognition that no society is anything or something without its people. We have to recognize this fact and thus admit that ultimately the power should be in the hands of the people. I think the drawing shows that in a simple and effective manner."

Third prize
‘State House is the people's house' -- Mphaso Sakala, Zambia

The jury's motivation:

"The illustration presents a cunning but important message about the core of democracy: ‘State House is the people's house'. House can be seen as the house the president actually lives in or as the 'house' where the democracy operates--in both cases it is a relevant and interesting message. In a democracy State House is not the president's property; it is a facility made available while she/he--temporarily--works for the people. The house should, therefore, not be looked at with awe and humility but with pride. The illustration is ambiguous in its visual expression. Maybe State House is the people's house. Maybe the president needs to be reminded that it is not his but belongs to the people."

On November 8, 2007, the United Nations adopted September 15 as the International Day of Democracy.

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