News & Ideas  -  Kettering Global Fellows at Work: Maame Afua Asantewaa Adusei

Democracy around the Globe Global Fellows Lisa Boone-Berry

By Lisa Boone-Berry

This blog post continues the series highlighting the work of the 2023 Charles F. Kettering Global Fellows for Advancing Inclusive Democracies. CFK Global Fellows is an initiative of the Democracy around the Globe focus area with the goal of fostering an international community of partners to promote and defend inclusive democracies.

Africa is the youngest continent on the globe with a striking 70 percent of its population under the age of 30. While youth engagement is on the agenda for the US and other democracies, the statistics for African youth make this an urgent issue. This is what drew Ghana’s Maame Afua Asantewaa Adusei to this particular subject when she developed her fellowship project.

In recent years, young people have mobilized around issues using various social media platforms. However, youth are often less engaged in other forms of political participation. Adusei cites research which found that in some contexts, discrimination against youth limits their access to civil and political participation. This in turn contributes to injustices against young people as well as fosters political apathy and a growing mistrust of government institutions.

Discrimination is not the only hurdle facing this demographic group. Other challenges to youth participation include poverty, widespread corruption (which creates disillusionment), and cultural tradition. In Ghana, there is a great deal of respect toward elders, which does not allow space for younger voices. Adusei notes that one important takeaway people need to understand is that young people have a different perspective on democracy than the older generation. Because youth are key stakeholders of democracy—and considering they are the future as well as the largest demographic on the continent—providing opportunities for young people to participate facilitates good governance and strengthens democracy in Africa.

Along with a report to the foundation, Adusei developed a policy brief with different options for engaging youth and enhancing their political participation. In the brief’s conclusion, she states, “Empowering the youth to actively engage in the political process is not merely a choice but a fundamental necessity for the endurance and growth of Ghana’s democratic fabric. By dismantling barriers, fostering inclusion, and reforming structures, Ghana can fortify its commitment to democracy, ensuring that power and influence are made accessible to young citizens—the custodians of democracy.”

To round out her project and to appeal to young people, Adusei worked with an animator to create a video titled, “Youth Political Awakening.” On March 6, Ghana’s Independence Day, a day in which the people of Ghana celebrate the end of colonial rule, a clip from the video was posted on social media. Adusei said that initial responses to the video have been overwhelmingly positive and that it resonated with many young people. Click here to view a clip from “Youth Political Awakening.”