Youth mainstreaming is deliberately creating places and positioning young people throughout society in order to foster full, regular and normalized youth voice everywhere, all of the time. It can happen at home, in schools, business, government, nonprofit organizations, places of worship, and other places. Elected officials, teachers, youth workers, parents, ministers, and many other people can benefit when the voices of youth, including their knowledge, ideas, wisdom and thoughts are actively embedded in decision-making, research, teaching, evaluation, policymaking, and advocacy. Youth mainstreaming is all of this and more, and all of it can change the world.
Ways Youth Mainstreaming Can Change the World
Government Agencies — Local, regional, federal and international policymaking organizations can all facilitate youth mainstreaming throughout their functions, from the broad policymaking actions to everyday, operational activities including program facilitation, research, evaluation, and other actions. Policies, procedures, funding and outcomes should all be part of youth mainstreaming activities in these organizations.
Education Systems — On the federal, regional and district levels, youth mainstreaming can revolutionize learning, teaching and leadership throughout schools. Youth mainstreaming in education takes the form of engaging students in every action throughout the education system. It also means changing the roles of students and educators by fostering youth/adult partnerships for every student in every school at every grade level all of the time.
Local Nonprofit Organizations — Local nonprofits / NGOs work on the village, town, city and county levels to address critical community needs in education, public safety, health, the environment, and countless other areas. Infusing children and youth throughout every single part of their operations can lead these organizations to greater degrees of effectiveness in many ways.
Things Needed for Youth Mainstreaming to Change the World
Strategy — Perhaps more than any other strategy for young people to change the world, youth mainstreaming depends on deliberate strategies for success. Identifying where and when youth voice should be engaged; educating others about youth mainstreaming; determining different approaches to fostering youth/adult partnerships within systems; creating policies and procedures for mainstreaming; evaluating outcomes; and identifying next steps are all important. Once these strategic steps have been taken, practical action and reflection should begin as soon as possible.
Education — Youth mainstreaming requires addressing all three pillars of social change: individual attitudes; shared cultures; and specific systems. In order to spread ownership, foster support and sustain commitment, educating people about the types of changes that happen within those pillars is essential. Because youth mainstreaming is a responsive approach, education for each area should be different, as organizations vary in their scope, activities and outcomes.
Opportunities — Creating opportunities for youth mainstreaming requires organizational leadership, a program champion and youth advocates. These opportunities require substantive commitments of resources, including staffing, training, supplies and other tools, including sustained and appropriate funding.
- “Youth Mainstreaming” on Wikipedia
- “Action points for youth mainstreaming” by Students Partnership Worldwide
- “Mainstreaming of Youth” by Kassoum Coulibaly for UNESCO Office in Bamako, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- “Youth mainstreaming as a tool for strategic youth development” by YouthPolicy.org
- “Standalone or Mainstreaming: Youth in the Post 2015 Development Goals” by ActionAid
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