#SeparatedbutUnited - hope of a better future

As the world starts to look towards the social and economic recovery following the global coronavirus pandemic, the lives, rights and wellbeing of a whole generation of young people depends on what comes next. This series of short blog posts on how we build a better future are all written by the Board Members of the European Youth Forum.

To save our democracies we must include civil society

Written by Carina Autengruber

Covid-19 goes far beyond an economic crisis. It further boosts a global trend we have been confronted with for years: our democracies being dismantled slowly but steadily.

To control the pandemic, restrictions were necessary to protect the lives of people. We can all agree on that. However, these emergency measures must be proportional and strictly limited in time. Governments cannot impose or justify any restrictions on our fundamental human rights that might have mid to long-term consequences going far beyond the current crisis. 

In our recently published study, “Safeguarding Civic Space for Young People in Europe”, 50% of the surveyed youth organisations are already finding that opportunities for youth organisations to participate in policy processes are restricted and limited. As activists in the youth sector we receive threats when we stand up for the human rights of the most vulnerable in society. We see walls in the form of laws being built in front of our eyes that take away our space to speak up for a fair and just system for everyone. We see the active exclusion of our participation at events. Mechanisms aiming to silence the voices of young people are manyfold; targeted tools used by the ones in power to remain in power. 

If the status quo of youth civil society organisations is neglected and the policy approach to address the Covid-19 crisis consists of the narrow view, “as long as the economy is doing fine, we are all fine”, then there is a real danger that the race to the bottom and the risks to our democracy will continue in the post-emergency phase.

Governments must involve us now to co-design policy responses with us. Only if civil society organisations are being considered as providers of solutions we can overcome this crisis and leave no behind. 

More blog posts

About Carina

Carina Autengruber is the President of the European Youth Forum and originally from Austria. Her academic background is in development studies, gender studies and political science and she has been working in a consulting company for more than 8 years. From 2014 to 2016 Carina was active in the Austrian National Youth Council as European Youth Delegate representing the voice of young people living in Austria on European level. In 2017 and 2018 Carina served as Vice-President of the European Youth Forum focusing on EU affairs. As President she works across the areas of good governance to improve the impact and transparency, on mainstreaming diversity and inclusion across all streams as well as on a sustainable platform to increase organisational capacity.


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