People must have the opportunity to influence their own lives. That requires knowledge and power, but also self-esteem and commitment. Through education and organisation, people suffering from poverty, violence and oppression can put pressure on decision-makers in different levels of the society.
Diakonia has many years of experience in supporting efforts for democracy and democratisation. To us, the word "democracy" includes more than a formal setting of laws and regulations. Just as important is the fact that people must have the ability, knowledge and possibility to exercise their democratic rights. In a true democracy all people also carry obligations, both on idividual and overall levels in society and everyday life.
Access to food is a prerequisite
In order to be able to exercise one's democratic rights and obligations, people must have access to food, education, housing etcetera. In short, the individual's human rights must be secured and guaranteed.
In a true democracy there shouldn't be social or economic injustices that prevent people from participating in decision-making processes in society. That is why Diakonia often works with democracy in a close interrelation between the themes human rights and social and economic justice.
Women, young people, native people and ethnical minorities are often the one's furthest away from where decisions are being made. That is why Diakonia works to strentghen these groups, so that they can participate in the democratic processes.
History has shown that social movements, churches and organisations have been able to provide enormous powers when it comes to increasing the democracy in a country. One way to work for democratisation is to support people who have organised themselves in order to change their living conditions. Sometimes we describe this as "building democracy from below".
Member of an orchestra in Madurai inTamil Nadu (south India) entertains during a meeting with Diakonia's partner organisation SIRD.
Photo: Suwad Mrkonjic