WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?The term democracy is derived from 'demos' and 'cratia' in Latin which means people and power; thus democracy means "power in the hands of the people."
Democracy is a type of government where sovereignity belongs to the people; the government is representative of and responsible to them; the goal of the state is welfare of the people which includes the development of personalities of the citizens.
Basically, democracy is a form of government in which a country's political leaders are chosen by the people in regular free and fair elections. In a democracy, people have a choice between different candidates and parties who want the power to govern.
The people can criticize and replace their elected leaders if they do not perform well. The people are sovereign - people are the highest authority - and government is based on the will of the people. Elected representatives at the national and local levels must listen to the people and be responsive to their needs.
It is thus not only a form of government but a type of state as well as an order of society. It may be defined as "political method by which every citizen has the opportunity of participating through discussion in an attempt to reach voluntary agreements as to what shall be done for the good of the community as a whole."
In a democracy every citizen has definite basic rights that the state cannot take away from them. These rights are internationally guaranteed. Everyone has the right to have their own beliefs, including religious beliefs, and to speak and write what they think. Everyone has the right to seek different sources of information and ideas. Everyone has the right to associate with other people, and to form and join organizations of their choice, including trade unions. Everyone has the right to assemble and protest government actions.
However, citizens have an obligation to exercise these rights peacefully, with respect for the law and for the rights of others. All citizens are equal under the law. No one may be discriminated against on the basis of their race, religions, ethnic, group or gender.
It is conclusive that voting and democracy is crucial in a government because it allows people to participate in their government, holds elected representatives responsible for their action, and it prevents a minority from dictating the policies of a majority. It can be said that democracy is not only a form of government, it is a great way of life.
Now just imagine in every woman exercised the right to democracy. Wouldn't the world be a much better place? Make the choice to vote today.
The more women vote and participate in democracy, the more chance for establishment of equality and women empowerment to be achieved in society. Democracy is the way to go if equality is to be a reality.
Written by Eren Ergin, UN Volunteer
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