Citizen Participation & Empowerment

The Latin America and the Caribbean region is experiencing its longest period of democratic regimes. Electoral democracy has spread and consolidated since the early ’90s. But the quality of these democracies is still a concern.

Citizens are frustrated by wide disparities in wealth and power, and there is weak popular participation in public affairs — especially among young generations, women, and those of African and indigenous descent. Moreover, public and private corruption, citizen insecurity and weak public institutions are major threats to the region’s democratic governance.

Citizenship and human rights

Of the 600 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 26 percent are aged 15-29. This is a unique opportunity for the region’s development and for its present and future governance.

Only 5-10 percent of young Latin Americans take part of civil and political activities, according to a recent UNESCO study. But UNDP’s Human Development Reports have shown that young people have enormous potential as agents of change. Despite Latin America’s remarkable progress in reducing poverty and inequality, and its strides toward strong democracies with free and transparent elections, ​​structural problems perpetuate unequal rights and opportunities among citizens, including in job opportunities and access to public goods and services.

What we are doing

Through regional and country-based programmes, UNDP contributes to the region's efforts in strengthening democratic governance by promoting dialogue and participation, especially of women, youth, and Latin Americans of African and indigenous descent.

We also work to improve public institutions’ ability to deliver better services while boosting transparency and accountability.

 UNDP promotes a holistic view of democratic governance in Latin America and the Caribbean based on the rights and role of citizens: "a democracy of citizenship."

Our Projects

Youth Empowerment

UNDP trains young leaders and encourages youth engagement in politics. Juventudconvoz, a UNDP-backed portal, seeks to boost political inclusion of young Latin Americans aged 15-29, particularly women, afro-descendants and indigenous peoples. more

Inclusion of women in politics

UNDP trains young women leaders, particularly of African and indigenous descent. Mapping the inclusion of women in local, state and national politics is also a crucial pillar of our work in the region more


This initiative seeks to boost the political inclusion of Latin Americans of African descent. We work mainly with governmental agencies nd civil society organizations to boost leadership and raise awareness of economic, politic and social rights. more

Indigenous issues

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are approximately 50 million indigenous peoples, about 10 percent of the total population. In Peru and Guatemala indigenous peoples account for almost half of the population, while in Bolivia they are more than 60 percent. Even though in Mexico indigenous peoples cover only 10 percent of the total population, Mexico and Peru contain the region’s largest indigenous population: about 11 million people Their political participation has increased in the last 20 years but it still remains low. Indigenous women’s participation, in particular, lags behind. UNDP seeks to boost political inclusion of indigenous peoples. We map key challenges and share successful experiences in the region. UNDP works mainly with governmental agencies nd civil society organizations to boost leadership and raise awareness of economic, politic and social rights. more


This initiative, run by our Regional Service Center in Panama, promotes local governance through dialogue and consultation tools, public policy advocacy and citizen participation. PROLOGO strengthens the strategic capacity of sub-national level and the organization of groups excluded, while promoting alliances and joint work between local authorities and civil society organizations, with special emphasis on youth organizations . The approach has helped to promote and recognize the opportunities for dialogue and consultation between sub-national governments and civil society organizations. more

Escuela Virtual

The first United Nations virtual learning platform provides training in the areas of Human Development, Democratic Governance, Crisis Prevention and Early Recovery and Information Technologies and Communication. Our Virtual School has been providing training to thousands of government and civil society representatives in 24 countries since its launch in 2006. The School is also training young leaders, including indigenous peoples, on political communication, raising awareness on how information and the ability to communicate effectively can influence politics. more