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What is Democracy?

In the International Day of Democracy a question raises: “What is Democracy?”

The article tries to provide a discriminating approach to one of the most famous notion of Western culture.


In the International Day of Democracy a question raises: “What is Democracy?”


The Council of Europe defines democracy as “a way of governing which depends on the will of the people.”

In particular, it is not the “rule of the majority" - the CoE warns - as in democracy minorities' interests are not ignored. So, a democracy is rather a government on behalf of all the people.


Beyond being a way of governing, democracy has to do also with specific ethical guidelines. As CoE writes, it requires two important moral conditions indeed: the individual autonomy, that is the idea that people should be able to control their own lives and Equality, the idea that everyone should have the same opportunity to take part to the decisions affecting people in society.


Have these conditions been met by Countries in the world to date?

The answering is, unfortunately, “no, they haven’t.”


"Women are under-represented nearly everywhere"

Countries haven’t met the democratic moral conditions in general, regarding any disadvantaged and/or minority group. But what about the largest disadvantaged group in the world, women and girls?


The World Economic Forum has recently published the Global Gender Gap Report 2023.

The Report analyses the Gender Gap Index considering four sub-indices:

1. Economic Participation and Opportunity

2. Education Attainment

3. Health and Survival

4. Political Empowerment


Globally speaking, the sub-indices n° 2 and 3 have a high percentage of closure: 95.2% and 96%, respectively. On the contrary, the n° 1 and n°4 sub-indices registered lower success: the percentage of closure dramatically falls to 60.1% of the Economic Participation and Opportunity and to 22.1% of the Political Empowerment.

That simply means that women are under-represented nearly everywhere.


In the Euro-Med area the differences between countries are very pronounced. Even though Northern European Countries occupied the highest ranks in the list of Countries with the best performance, Southern countries like Greece and Cyprus are far away from the first positions (102 and 117 ranks, respectively), Algeria ranks 135th, Lebanon is one of the lower ranks in the Political Empowerment list (144).


Data reported above are a clear evidence that billion of women and girls live deprived of democracy although living in Democratic states.


Local and Regional Governments have a great power to change the status quo: they have the power to create spaces for women participation (i.e. local women councils, special political schools for women), to provide services “that advance the human rights of women considering their specific experiences and needs”, they can include women in their governments.


Considering that, the bottom-up approach and the commitment of local governments at the frontline are pivotal in the change to Democracy.

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