Thematic Areas

Youth Programming

YP 1 - Working with youth

YP 1 - Working with youth

Youth participation is the ‘active, informed and voluntary’ involvement of young people in their communities and in all decision-making that impacts them locally, nationally and internationally. It means that young people are actively involved in, or are leading programmes and work that impact them, as opposed to others working on behalf of them.

Young people’s right to participate is enshrined in human rights instruments. For example, Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, stipulates that all young people up to the age of 18 have the right to participate in any matter concerning them and to have their opinions taken into account. Article 11 of the African Youth Charter says that young people have right to participate in ‘all spheres of society’.

Youth participation is meaningful when...

  • It is DIVERSE… encouraging the involvement of those groups of young women and men who are often excluded from activities on the basis of their race, colour, age, sex, language, ethnicity, disability, or any other status. It's important to pay particular attention to issues of gender to ensure that patriarchal structures do not limit the involvement of girls and young women.
  • It is RELEVANT and VOLUNTARY… youth should not be forced to participate, and it should be clear that they can withdraw their involvement at any time. They should be involved in ways that are appropriate to their capacities and interests. Young people should not be set up to fail. They should be involved in issues that are relevant to them, and that draw upon their knowledge, skills and abilities.
  • It is TRANSPARENT and ACCOUNTABLE… young people should understand the purpose of their participation, and their roles, as well as the level of impact and influence they will have throughout the process. Information should not be hidden from young people and youth-friendly versions of key documents and policies should be available.
  • There is an ENABLING ENVIRONMENT… resources should be invested in training adults to prepare them to engage with youth and in building young people’s skills and ability to participate, laying a strong foundation for meaningful youth participation.
  • It is SAFE… balancing young people’s right to participate with the need to ensure their involvement does not expose them to risks. Careful assessments of risks should be in place to minimise exposure to harm when youth engage in programming, campaigning or advocacy at LRP levels and beyond. See Youth Programming Toolkit, p13-16.
  • It is SUSTAINABLE… learning from, as well as building the capacity of our partners to engage youth as beneficiaries, partners and leaders. It is important that young people understand what has been the outcome from their participation, and are involved in monitoring and evaluation – this can help encourage them to continue their involvement over the long term.



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