Inclusion and equality of participation

Inclusion and equality of participation

When people are excluded from political power, or if the real concerns of citizens are not addressed, then democracy is not living up to its promise. That is why inclusion is a central part of our work.
a panel of speakers
WFD supports the inclusion of young people, people with disabilities (PWDs), women and girls, and LGBT+ people in decision-making around the world. 
a woman sitting in a wheelchair speaks into a microphone

Participation and leadership of people with disabilities

WFD works towards inclusive political environments that invite and support the participation and leadership of persons with disabilities (PWDs). 

Stigma and discrimination create barriers for PWDs, which WFD works to help remove. Without these barriers, disabled people can be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives. WFD's work to support the inclusion of PWDs includes: 

  • Helping to ensure electoral systems are accessible 
  • Supporting political parties to become more representative 
  • Helping political parties, parliaments and civil society organisations better understand the lived experiences of PWDs 
  • Ensuring political parties and parliaments can design, deliver and enforce policies and laws that lead to the best outcomes for PWDs

Young people's leadership and engagement 

There are more young people in the world than ever before. This offers unprecedented opportunities for global growth, innovation and creative advancement. 

To fully realise these opportunities, young people must be well-represented in decision-making. Societies that focus on creating good outcomes for children and young people enjoy substantial benefits over the longer term. 

However, in most countries, including young people in decision-making is not yet the norm. Those with the power to make decisions often have a poor understanding of young people's priorities, such as access to high-quality education training and employment, technology, or health and wellbeing.

WFD has worked to support the role of young people in politics and civic leadership through: 

  • Parliamentary youth caucuses 
  • Youth-focused civil society organisations and forums 
  • Youth manifestos and electoral debates 
  • Mobilisation efforts targeting young people as voters 
pride flag waving above protestors

LGBT+ political participation and leadership 

WFD’s programmes supporting LGBT+ political participation and leadership work towards a world in which LGBT+ people are included in decision-making spaces and can influence policy and law reform processes. To achieve this, we focus on three main avenues to inclusion: evidence and incentives, skills and tools, and links and relationships: 

  • Filling gaps in research and evidence when it comes to better outcomes for LGBT+ people to help bolster decision-makers’ incentives to act. We also support leaders to make the case for change. 
  • Ensuring civil society organisations that support and advocate for the rights of LGBT+ people have the skills and tools they need to bring about change, including through tracking and assessing legislation. 
  • Strengthening the links and relationships between civil society, thought-leaders, and decision-makers which will make it easier for them to work together for equality. 

Leadership for inclusion

This report by WFD, in partnership with University of Birmingham, identifies what skills and qualities are needed among parliamentarians to be able to promote inclusive change.


Our expertise

Cecillia Makonyola - Head of Practice, Inclusion