Some 120 youth gathered at Ste Famille Hotel in Kigali on Wednesday to dialogue on their role in promoting democratic values and better contribute to sustainable peace and development in the country. Under the theme, “Strengthening youth participation in decision-making processes in a changing era”, the event was organised by Never Again Rwanda. It was part of the activities to celebrate the International Day of Democracy which is marked on September 15, every year. The day is used to assess the state of democracy in the world. Solange Kamaliza, a youth volunteer and a member of Umwezi Youth Club of Never Again Rwanda said that for her, democracy reflects freedom and rights of citizens, living together in peace as well as having a common understanding of government policies. On the International Day of Democracy, she continued, people should think of the ways to sustain democracy. She urged the youth to love Rwandan values and culture as well as themselves, adding that when they do, they will be able to nurture peace for themselves hence embracing democracy. She said that youth should work together and unite because without that, democracy can be spoiled, adding that they also have to learn and understand democracy so that they can teach others who are not yet able to learn. Jesse Rayson Shyaka, the president of Rwanda Youth Organization Forum said that youth should adapt to any situations, especially in this time of Covid-19, but without changing who they are throughout the process. “Challenges will be there, but there will always be solutions. We, the youth, should see ourselves as solution givers in our communities. Changes should start from us and when elders realise that, they will be able to help us,” he said. “We should also know our rights and use the opportunities the government offers so that we can be involved in decision making.” Speaking at the event, Judith Kazaire, the Head of Civil Society and Political Organisations Department at the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) said that Democracy can be perceived in three mirrors Rwanda has chosen. She declared that it sustains people-centred governance where people contribute to what is done for them, adding that RGB statistics shows that the involvement is now above 81 per cent which is progress to celebrate when talking about democracy. She said that democracy can also be perceived based on the uniqueness of Rwanda which is built on Rwandan culture, history and goals of self-reliance. “If democracy doesn’t reflect the context of a country, it can mislead it. Democracy should reflect the structure of the country, its problems as well as the choices that form its politics. Democracy should improve good governance,” she said. She added that democracy should support leadership that brings changes to the lives of people and set policies that assess accountability. Moreover, she urged the youth to use opportunities they have and involve in decision-making processes at different levels. Eric Mahoro, Deputy Executive Director at Never Again Rwanda said that gathering youth together is an opportunity for them to reflect on the current situation of their participation in Rwanda and challenges posed by Covid-19. “On this day, we take democracy out of theory to practice and make youth understand that democracy is to give peace to one another, understand different opinions of people and try to match them with the vision of good governance or a line the country wants to take,” he said.