Youth Activists to Receive 2013 Democracy Award

National Endowment for Democracy to honor young leaders from Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe, and Cuba

Jun 19, 2013, 13:12 ET from National Endowment for Democracy

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)'s 2013 Democracy Award will highlight the important role that youth are playing in advancing democracy in the world today.  In this, its 30th anniversary year, NED will honor three outstanding young people who are working in extraordinarily challenging environments to create a democratic future in their respective countries.  The Endowment will also make a posthumous award to a fourth young democrat whose life was cut short in the midst of his struggle.

NED will present its award to activists from Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe and Cuba at a July 17th Capitol Hill ceremony in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building.  "Our Democratic Future: the role of youth in advancing democracy" will be the topic of a panel discussion that will be held from 4:00-5:30 p.m. and will be followed by the award presentation at 6:00 p.m.

"At a time when so many regimes are rolling back the democratic gains of recent decades, it is truly inspiring to see the creative, enthusiastic, and courageous efforts of young democrats who are insisting on their rights, demanding accountability, and engaging in politics to achieve democratic progress," said NED president Carl Gershman. "NED is very proud to recognize the work of these honorees and to hold them up as an example for youth around the world who want to have a say in the future of their countries and the world."

The 2013 Democracy Award honorees are:

Gulalai Ismail, 26, is founder and chairperson of Aware Girls, a young women-led organization that seeks to provide a leadership platform to young women and girls of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwest Pakistan.  She has more than 10 years of experience working on leadership development for girls and young women; addressing gender based violence; encouraging peace and pluralism; promoting and protecting human rights; and striving to bring women in to the political mainstream.

Vera Kichanova, 22, was elected in March 2012 as a municipal deputy in Moscow's Yuzhnoye Tushino district, and is the first libertarian elected official in Russia. As a member of the municipal council she fights for more transparency on the part of the local authorities. Kichanova is an avid journalist and civic activist who has been arrested for her outspoken defense of democratic principles.

Glanis Changachirere, 30, is the founding director of the Institute for Young Women Development (IYWD), which encourages marginalized young women in farming, mining, and rural communities to participate in Zimbabwean politics. IYWD has played an important role in calling for peaceful, democratic elections, and the need to guarantee space for the participation of all Zimbabweans in the political system, including the prevention of gender based violence.

Harold Cepero, (1980-2012) was the leader of the youth wing of Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), the group that organized the Varela project -- a citizen petition movement that called for a popular referendum to establish the foundation for a democratic system in Cuba. With more than 25,000 Cubans publicly signing the petition, the Varela Project became one of the most creative challenges to the country's totalitarian rulers. On July 22, 2012, Cepero was killed in a suspicious car crash along with Cuba's most prominent democratic activist and founder of the MCL, Oswaldo Paya.

Rosa Maria Paya, another young leader of the MCL and the daughter of Oswaldo Paya, will accept the award on behalf of Cepero and the Christian Liberation Movement.

The National Endowment for Democracy is a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world.  It is active in more than 90 countries, supporting grassroots, democratic initiatives.  More information about NED and the Democracy Award can be found at

SOURCE National Endowment for Democracy