This project aims to create a culture of participatory democracy in Bhutan. First, it "inspires active citizens" through projects that tackle social problems. Second, it "encourages and expands public discourse" by organizing forums focused on diverse topics such as the role of media and the crisis of democracy in modern times. Third, it produces "resources for democracy" targeted towards all citizens, ranging from rural teachers to government officials.
In 2008, Bhutan's system of government peacefully transitioned to democracy. Yet, its society remains relatively unused to a culture of democracy. Indeed, most of Bhutan's people remain unaware of both their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Without education and engagement to give voice to all - but especially those who have not traditionally participated in the process of participatory governance - Bhutan will remain a democracy in name only.
First, this project targets typically disengaged segments of society (such as youth) by involving them in local problem-solving (such as youth-driven advocacy campaigns). Second, it organizes forums that bring together all types of citizens - ranging rural teachers to government officials - so that even the quietest voices in society are heard. Third, it produces print, audio, and visual materials on the democratic process, and distributes them to the furthest reaches of the country.
These programs have reached thousands of citizens from all walks of life - including gewog administrative officers, rural students, unemployed youth, other non-profit employees, and informal teachers. However, the most impactful side of our work is the large and abiding change it creates in individual people. As one of our recently graduated youth representatives stated, our Youth Initiative had "changed his life"; it gave him "lifelong friends" and "invaluable knowledge and skills."
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).