At the Third Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in South Africa in 2004, a group of young democracy and human rights activists from around the world came together to found what was then called the Youth Movement for Democracy in order to support each other, build solidarity and youth capacity, to exchange ideas, promote collaboration, strengthen international solidarity to support young people working in difficult circumstances and to develop sustainable democracy and human rights movements by empowering a younger generation in democracy promotion activities.

The Network has since grown to over 1,200 members and is a functional youth branch of the World Movement for Democracy, a global network of democracy activists, practitioners, and scholars. Today the Youth Movement serves as a platform for young activists to address the importance of promoting democratic values, a forum for sharing information and ideas, and as an action-oriented, solidarity movement.

It provides a space for young activists to build relationships with each other, to collaborate across borders, to deepen their knowledge on key issues, and to develop practical skills. Like the World Movement, the Youth Movement aims to support youth participation in efforts to strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster pro-democracy groups in countries that have not yet entered into a process of democratic transition.

Last year, the WYMD changed the official logo that it had previously used. The new visual identity represents youth through the color yellow, which is generally associated with youth, and the visual representation of a tree, associated with youth and growth.