After millennia of European domination, nations around the world are emerging in healthy, powerful ways. International development is slowly coming to focus on the whole planet, including young people. Youth and international development are tied together, addressing a variety of issues including extreme poverty and hunger; universal education; gender equality and women’s empowerment; ending child mortality; improving maternal health; ending HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global commitment to human empowerment. Youth are partnering with adults to lead these movements today and towards the future.
When we’re talking about youth participation, we’re talking about challenging longstanding practices that hinder young people participating at all levels. So when we hear our leaders talking about young people getting involved, we actually would like to see them follow that through with concrete suggestions, such as a quote on all decision making boards for young people. — Jacque Koroi
Ways Youth can Change the World through International Development
Youth as Decision-Makers — Whether they’re focusing on economics, hunger or other issues, young decision-makers can be major contributors to international development through decision-making. Becoming active, involved and full members of boards and decision-making committees in international NGO and international specialized agencies can empower and engage young people in changing the world.
Youth as Movement Leaders — Working on their own or as partners with adults, young people can lead movements focused on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals or any international development issues that matter to them. Working across the Internet, using social media, texting or on the ground in local communities, youth can change the world as movement leaders.
Youth Media Makers — Learning about the issues that matter to them and taking action to inform others, children and youth can create and promote a variety of media, including print, online and video. Sharing messages and building consensus, youth media makers can create new approaches and foster new support for international development.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through International Development
Opportunities — Creating, building, sustaining or recreating opportunities for youth involvement in international development can be vital for engaging youth. Opportunities can be systemic, educational, cultural, social, religious, or otherwise.
Education — Working with adults as allies or on their own, children and youth can learn the essential knowledge they need to take action for international development. Whether they’re promoting NGOs becoming involved in their local communities and nations, or working for those NGOs to building youth involvement or youth activism, young people can change the world by learning about international development.
Inspiration — With so many traditional messages focusing on “act local, think global”, it’s important for young people to get inspired to take on international development. As integral leaders over the last twenty years, young people have taken action, changed policies, and helped millions of people around the world. Sharing these stories and building interest matters.
- “Youth Participation in Development: Summary guidelines for development partners” by the United Nations
- “Youth Impact” by USAID
- The Role of Child and Youth Participation in Development Effectiveness A Literature Review by UNICEF
- Youth Participation in Development: A Guide for Development Agencies and Policy Makers by UKAID, DFID, SPW and the Youth Working Group
- “Investing in Youth in International Development Policy Making the case” Paola Pereznieto and James Hamilton Harding for ODI
- What Works in Youth Participation: Case Studies from Around the World Edited by Silvia Golombek for International Youth Foundation®
- Youth Participation Guide: Assessment, Planning, and Implementation for Family Health International and Advocates for Youth
- Young People and International Development: Engagement and Learning by Douglas Bourn and Kate Brown for The Development Education Association and UKAID
- “Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs” by US Council on Disabilities
- “Promoting Youth Involvement in International Development” by Sarah Christophe for USAID
- “Youth and International Development” by Kalpen Modi for the White House
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in international development in your community or organization, contact us.
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