Check out this incredible video on opportunities created, lives transformed in Nepal. Over the past five years, USAID’s Education for Income Generation program has helped tens of thousands of youth not only find skills-based work at home but also become employers themselves. Today, 74,000 disadvantaged youth are reaping benefits, with higher incomes, raised living standards, and substantially increased food security.
Archives for Youth
Many of us youth development practitioners have been eagerly anticipating the release of USAID’s youth policy with the hope that it will increase awareness of the importance of youth issues to development. I know from EDC’s work around the world how integral youth are to economic, social and political development.
One of the main principles in the youth policy is youth participation and youth leadership. In my work with youth in Garissa, Kenya, I see how young people have jumped at the chance to get involved in their communities, when given channels to apply their ideas and energy. Young women and men producing and broadcasting their own radio stories throughout North Eastern Province about news that matters to them is a great example. Youth led programming‐with youth in real decision‐making roles is essential, but it is far from easy and quick; it takes time and involves lots of trial and error. So it’s important for us to understand this when designing programs—we need to be ambitious but also patient and target a range of outcomes, that include building the capacity of young people not just as leaders, but as team members that are able to work together to problem solve and make decisions. I’m hopeful that we, as practitioners, and our colleagues at USAID can design programs that reflect this complex process.
The Youth Policy’s emphasis on families and communities is another principle that the Garissa experience has demonstrated. As important as ‘youth‐led’ programming is, youth still need support and encouragement to take on new roles and responsibilities. In fact, I think parents are often the best partners we have in communities because they know first‐hand how much their children are frustrated or depressed when they do not have opportunities. We hear directly from parents in Garissa how much they want to help their children do something that stimulates them or gives them inspiration, such as access to training or scholarships. Programs need to include parents consistently therefore, and not just at the launch of the project or when problems arise.
I’m also hopeful that the Youth Policy will reinforce USAID’s gender policy to continue to highlight the importance of gender within youth programs and development programs more broadly. All too often, the different needs and considerations for reaching young women and young men are not part of youth program design. We see this particularly in workforce programs in which it is rare to see specific workforce strategies for young women vs. men. As youth employment receives more attention, we can’t forget that meaningful solutions for addressing youth employment must consider the unique constraints affecting young women’s and men’s employment and livelihoods opportunities.
About the Education Development Center, Inc.: EDC designs, delivers and evaluates innovative programs to address some of the world’s urgent challenges in education, health and economic opportunity. EDC has designed and managed youth and workforce development programs in over 25 developing countries. Our programs focus on changing the life trajectory of youth who have been left out and left behind. EDC offers an integrated package of education, supports and experiences to ensure young people transition to successful, productive adulthood. Our focus on earning, education, and engagement and three primary cross‐cutting strategies make EDC’s work unique.
As an active member of the Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), Plan International USA applauds USAID on the launch of the Youth in Development Policy! Along with many others in the development community, Plan has been anxiously awaiting the Policy’s launch. Plan’s work focuses on empowering children and youth in 50 developing countries, and this Policy offers an important reinforcement of the need to engage this population for lasting impact. We also congratulate Maame Yankah, a Youth Ambassador for Plan, for her participation in the Policy Launch Event, but more importantly for her many contributions to communities in Ghana and the US.
The launch of the Youth in Development Policy marks an important shift in our conversation. Many of us as youth champions are well‐versed in answering the question, “Why work with youth?” The reasons to involve youth as partners are many, and their talents, determination, and influence on the world stage is unprecedented. Yet today, with the heightened status of youth engagement within our own government, we can now embrace youth participation as an assumed component of our programming, and focus on responding to the more difficult question, “How should we work with youth?” Plan looks forward to collaborating with USAID, peer organizations, colleagues in the field, and of course the youth themselves, to collect viable answers to this question.
Now with USAID’s new Youth in Development Policy in our hands, how do we turn it into practice? For many organizations, working with youth may require a departure from current ways of operating and a renewed reliance on the youth community. Plan has made youth a heightened priority for several years, and to truly consider them partners, we will continue working with youth through these 3 steps:
1.Put Youth in the Driver’s Seat
It’s not enough to consult youth; they must be active participants and leaders in development. Because youth have unique needs and perspectives, only they possess the information to make youth programming relevant. Plan will continue to incorporate youth in the design and implementation process by calling on their experience and technical knowledge in such fields as economic empowerment, education, transparency and governance, and health. Not only will this channel youth energy into community‐building and their own personal growth, it will also breathe new life into the work that we do by dispelling old assumptions and continually driving new approaches. From a youth‐run television station in Malawi, to a performance group raising awareness about sexual abuse in India, youth are leaders in Plan’s global programming. We will look to these and other programs to track effective ways that youth can drive the development process.
2.Review and Revamp Internal Policies
USAID’s Youth in Development Policy encourages organizations to embrace youth in development as a cross‐cutting issue. As such, Plan International USA will take the Policy to heart in our own internal operations. Plan will continue to involve our domestically‐based Youth Advisory Board in organizational decisions. We will rely more heavily on our Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA) members to inspire awareness raising efforts on global issues among their peers here in the US.
Through the Because I am a Girl Campaign, Plan will continue to highlight the need for gender equality, as young women and girls face additional societal barriers. Plan will also increase efforts to measure youth involvement and youth‐led impact, involving youth in the monitoring and evaluation processes and in improving the evidence base.
3.Engage in Sharing and Learning
With the Youth in Development Policy, Plan is challenged to both share and learn from examples of what works to engage youth. In order to assure the greatest return on investment with limited resources, the youth community must be committed to communicating best practices and forming a community of learning. With this new focus on youth, we are accountable to not only our donors and partners, but especially to youth around the world. We need to work together to deliver the most responsible, impactful, innovative, and youth‐led programming possible. Only together as a united force can we adequately reach the scale necessary to meet the demands of the global youth population.
As a community, we won’t have the answers on how best to engage youth overnight. But with the launch of the Youth in Development Policy, we now have a call to action on behalf of the world’s youth. Plan International USA and the AIYD members are honored to have USAID’s support with our ongoing youth programming. Going forward, we will delegate more trust and authority to our youth partners. We also hope to engage with new youth champions, inspired by youth’s heightened profile within USAID. Congratulations to USAID on this momentous occasion‐ now it’s time for development actors and youth around the world to put the policy into motion!
About Plan International USA: Plan International works in more than 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children by developing long‐term sustainable solutions. Founded in 1937, Plan’s vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity. In addition, Plan International USA engages youth at an individual level through its Youth Engagement and Action (YEA) program, which involves a network of students and youth, as well as teachers and adult allies, in taking action on global issues. YEA’s mission is to build a global, youth‐led grassroots movement to help end the cycle of poverty for children and communities. YEA facilitates engagement through group meetings, school curriculum development, and advocacy reinforcing Plan’s global community development work. Within the United States, programs include educational outreach initiatives, organized retreats, and other special events and activities for youth participation, designed to help young people develop an understanding of the challenges faced by youth in the developing world.
USAID’s Policy for Youth in Development: A Timely Opportunity to Rethink Rural and Agricultural Programming
We applaud USAID’s new Youth Policy for recognizing the central role that youth should play in development strategies. Turning this policy into action at the mission and programmatic level is our next challenge. U.S. Government’s Feed the Future and rural development initiatives in particular should consider how youth can be better integrated into strategies and specific program design.
We understand that changing processes in ongoing or future programs will not be an easy feat. However, there are concrete steps that USAID can take with its partners to implement this policy at the mission level:
1. Clarify the role of youth in the Feed the Future initiative, we observe that missions have lacked clear guidance about the level of importance and timing of youth integration, which has led to contradictory messages to implementing partners. For example, should programs that focus on the commercialization of agriculture include youth immediately or as a longer term goal? How important is integrating youth in comparison to other programmatic outputs? Clarifying these issues will help missions and implementers to address youth issues, while meeting other key objectives.
2. Develop meaningful evaluation parameters. Current programs often set arbitrary targets around youth integration; with little guidance in terms of how to achieve those. Specific numerical targets (e.g. 30% youth beneficiaries) are a start. Further work is necessary to develop indicators that can disaggregate youth between different cohorts and represent meaningful participation, complemented by guidance for how missions will establish appropriate targets.
3. Share good practices about integrating and engaging youth. Implementers are learning how to change the attitudes of youth toward agriculture, as well as the attitudes of other agricultural value chain actors toward youth; when and how to engage young farmers at the group level vs. when they should be targeted with interventions at the individual level as entrepreneurs; and to engage lead firms on strategies for incorporating youth in their supply chains. The policy tells us “why” youth are important in development, exchanging good practices in these areas among partners and mission staff will move us all further towards answering “how” we can do so effectively.
4. Consider broader issues with respect to youth as they relate to agriculture. There are often trade‐offs associated with encouraging youth to integrate more fully into the agricultural sector.
How do Missions strike a balance between presenting agriculture as a legitimate career choice for young people; and recognizing that there might be other, more profitable opportunities either via other rural livelihoods or by migrating to an urban area?
Should the stemming of rural‐urban migration be a project goal; or should youth be encouraged to move freely in search of economic networks that better serve their needs?
Engaging youth in agriculture and rural markets presents both a critical challenge and important opportunity for USAID. The Youth policy represents an important step in recognizing this challenge; we now look forward to working with USAID and its missions to meet it.
Making Cents International invites all USAID partners and other stakeholders to connect and exchange best practices, research, tools and engage in frank discussion about knowledge gaps at the 7th Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference in Washington DC September 1 – 12, 2013. Special spotlight on linking rural youth to markets, www.YouthEconomicOpportunities.org.
About Making Cents International: A member of the Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), Making Cents International is an innovative DC‐based social enterprise that offers technical assistance and develops global platforms for leaders to connect and exchange information on issue of youth employment, supporting the world’s young people realize their potential. They maintain www.YouthEconomicOpportunities.org – the leading portal on this topic. – and convene the annual Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference which next takes place in Washington D.C from September 10 to 12th 2013, with a spotlight on Linking Rural Youth to Markets. All are invited to share their experience and participate.
Originally featured on The Huffington Post
New policies and procedures are announced nearly every day in Washington, D.C., often with little notice, and sometimes, deservedly so. However, a new youth policy just released by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) deserves not only our attention, but real applause. For the first time, it lays out specific strategies and guiding principles for how we, as a country, ought to invest in the world’s young people over the coming years. That’s important for all of us. Here’s why.
Today, half the world’s population, nearly three billion people, are under the age of 25, and the vast majority of them struggle every day, often against terrible odds, to stay in school, find a job and have a voice in society. Yet we know that when young people have the skills and opportunities to contribute to the economic, political, and civic life of their communities, they become their country’s and the world’s greatest assets. This potential demographic dividend of today’s youth population, the momentous events of the “Arab Spring” over the past year, and ongoing challenges of poverty, unemployment, and conflict, make this new youth policy both timely and urgently needed.
USAID, working with the NGO community, has been supporting youth development for decades — and having a real impact on young people and their communities worldwide. The International Youth Foundation has been among USAID’s many partners, working together over the years to expand job and civic engagement efforts in dozens of countries worldwide, including major multi-year initiatives currently being implemented in Jordan, Palestine, the Caribbean, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Uganda and Mozambique. This new release, entitled “Policy on Youth in Development, “builds on these years of experience in the field and aims to strengthen our collective efforts. In the words of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, we need to pursue “smarter, more innovative and evidence-based approaches to empowering youth in development.”
As the head of a global organization that for more than 20 years has worked with our locally rooted civil society partners in 70 plus countries to expand work, learning, and citizenship opportunities for today’s young people, I applaud USAID’s new policy for many reasons.
For those of us in the youth development field, this policy provides a strong framework and a set of overreaching goals within which to pursue and evaluate our efforts on the ground. The policy wisely promotes a holistic approach to youth development as young people make the often difficult transition to adulthood, yet recognizes overlapping links with childhood interventions such as health, protection, and education. It underscores the need to strengthen youth programming in areas such as employment and citizenship while also integrating youth issues across other agency initiatives and operations. I don’t believe the agency needs to change its focus on economic growth, democracy and governance, and post conflict situations. In fact, the new policy will help USAID address these challenges better and more sustainably given that 35 percent of the population of most developing countries is in the 15-29 age group.
I frequently advocate that ensuring young people can find decent jobs or create their own livelihoods through entrepreneurship gives societies a 50-year “return on investment.” Those who can work their way out of poverty will gain the dignity and self confidence to be more actively engaged in their communities. As a result, they will contribute to society, both economically and civically, for decades to come, and their children will be far more likely to succeed in school and in the job market. Policy on Youth in Development buttresses this argument, by making young people’s ability to get a job and support their families a critical piece in USAID’s larger goal of boosting economic growth and reaching those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid. Our foundation’s programs focus on expanding opportunities for this same under-served population. Put into practice, this strategy can turn the demographic “bulge” into a meaningful demographic “dividend.”
One of the greatest challenges we face in the NGO community is how to scale up effective and tested programs so we can reach and benefit millions more young people. USAID’s youth policy comes out strongly in support of building public-private partnerships to leverage greater resources to support such expansions. Equally importantly, it presses us all to increase our knowledge and evidence base by implementing rigorous evaluations – so that scaled up programs are built on best practices and metrics-based evidence and will thus have a real and lasting impact on both lives and public policy.
Most importantly, USAID’s youth policy reflects an overarching belief that young people are not simply program beneficiaries but extraordinarily valuable assets in society. This philosophy, that young people, indeed, must be our partners in development, lies at the very heart of our work at the International Youth Foundation. In that spirit, I applaud USAID for engaging 150 youth from 15 countries in the writing and developing of this policy and in providing important feedback. It is a valuable model of cooperation that I hope more policy makers, donors, and implementers will be emboldened to follow in the future.
To create a more prosperous and peaceful society, we need young people who are prepared for jobs in the 21st century, who have the resilience to keep going when times are tough, who feel free to voice their opinions and ideas, and who can lead positive change in their communities. With a renewed sense of urgency, we look forward to continuing our work with USAID and other public agencies and private sector donors to realize this vision for tomorrow.
Those of us who are parents know that the sun and moon rise around our children. To those of us who are in development, we know that young people have the strength to move the sun and the moon… and sometimes more.
USAID recently launched the Agency’s first Policy on Youth in Development to make young people a driving force in our development. I am excited about this, because it creates a specific place for youth as partners and leaders in global development—and this, in turn, can help us achieve sustainable results for their families, communities and countries.
Young people must be front and center in development throughout the world. They are critical to alleviating poverty with economic growth, fighting disease and defending human rights. They are also an essential part of promoting peaceful democracy, protecting the planet and fostering innovation. Think back to the Arab Spring and more often than not, it was the determination of youth that inspired us.
I saw this first hand as Mission Director in Colombia, where engaging and preparing young people was a central tenet of our approach to citizen security. Whether it was retraining youth after demobilizing them from an illegally armed group or supporting the internally displaced, youth were critical to achieving larger development objectives.
The new Youth in Development Policy(PDF) strengthens our commitment to elevate the voices and power of young people in all aspects of our work. They will be a central component in all development planning.
I recall Secretary Clinton’s recent words, “With more than half the global population under the age of 30 years and with the vast majority residing in developing countries, young people are at the heart of today’s great strategic opportunities and challenges.”
I am heartened by USAID’s new Youth Policy because it takes these sentiments one step further and makes young people a driving force in our development throughout the world.
Youth in Development joins a series of policies on important issues such as gender equality, climate change, and violent extremism that USAID has recently created to direct us and our missions’ focus in the strategic planning process.
Day three at UNGA included two marquee events spotlighting progress to date on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. We also announced a new partnership to expand access to contraception for 27 million women and girls in low-income countries.
With only 15 months until the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline, USAID partnered on an event with the UK Department for International Development for a second year to draw attention to the importance of the global community working together to reach the MDG targets by 2015. The event brought to life the enormous development advancements made on the way to achieving the MDGs and featured innovators from across the development community sharing transformative programs and policies. The world has met two MDG targets ahead of the 2015 deadline – poverty has been cut by 50 percent globally and the proportion of people with no safe drinking water has been cut in half.
That afternoon, Administrator Shah co-hosted with other G8 members the New Alliance: Progress and the Way Forward event. President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security & Nutrition earlier this year, in which G8 nations, African partner countries and private sector partners aim to help lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years by supporting agricultural development. Initially launched in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, at the event, representatives from the New Alliance, G8 countries and the private sector announced the expansion to other African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique.
Finally, Administrator Shah took part in the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. Prior to the meeting, Dr. Shah joined the Commission Co-Chairs, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, alongside former President Bill Clinton, to launch a new partnership to make a safe, effective, long-acting, reversible method of contraception available to more than 27 million women in the world’s poorest nations. Under the agreement, Bayer is reducing by more than half the current 18 USD price of its long-acting, reversible method of contraception, Jadelle, in return for a commitment to assure funding for at least 27 million contraceptive devices over the next six years. Dr. Shah stated, “The US Agency for International Development is proud to have funded the development of this life-saving product. Today is a major step forward to making this product more accessible to millions of women, empowering them with the ability to make decisions about their health and family.”
As always, follow us live on Twitter to keep up with the latest developments!
I am excited to have just returned from the kick-off of the Equal Futures Partnership to expand women’s opportunities around the world. The event was held in New York City and part of a number of events USAID is participating in during the United Nations General Assembly this week.
The world has made significant strides in expanding opportunity for women and girls; in the U.S., we just celebrated 40 years of Title IX, an act of Congress that changed the lives of many in my generation by enabling girls to have equal access to education playing sports. Equal access to sports in schools, particularly, taught many of us how to be fierce competitors and learn valuable lessons in team building.
Yet more work is needed to tackle the global gender inequality. Last week, I met in London with donors on this very topic where researchers discussed a number of startlingly facts:
- In 2011, women held only 19 percent of parliamentary seats worldwide, while less than five percent of heads of state and government were women.
- While in the past 25 years, women have increasingly joined the labor market, the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report describes “pervasive and persistent gender differences” in productivity and earnings across sectors and jobs.
- Though women are 43 percent of the agriculture labor force and undertake many unpaid activities, they own just a tiny fraction of land worldwide.
These realities demand an urgent response.
Building on President Obama’s challenge a year ago at UNGA, the United States government has partnered in a new international effort to break down barriers to women’s political participation and economic empowerment. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is to realize women’s human rights by expanding opportunity for women and girls to fully participate in public life and drive inclusive economic growth in our countries.
Through this partnership, the countries of Senegal, Benin, Jordan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Peru, Denmark, Finland, Australia and the European Union are all making new commitments to action, and will consult with national stakeholders inside and outside government, including civil society, multilateral organizations including UN Women and the World Bank, and the private sector, to identify and overcome key barriers to women’s political and economic participation. This partnership promises to be groundbreaking not only for the countries involved but also for those who are watching its implementation.
USAID and its Center for Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance stands by to provide assistance to these countries as well as many others throughout the world as they work to advance women’s political participation and economic empowerment.
This is thrilling work that helps make the promise of development real for everyone–not just a privileged few.
Read the latest edition of USAID’s FrontLines to learn more about how the Agency is engaging youth around the world and how it is embracing mobile technology. Some highlights:
- Looking to young minds for new ideas to old development challenges is producing fresh solutions. Just ask the young woman who is helping save newborns in Malawi with a jerry-rigged aquarium pump.
- They’re opening small businesses, building environmental awareness and learning the ins and outs of politics from the village council to Parliament. Through youth-led community groups, more than 700,000 of Kenya’s young people are preparing to become their country’s next generation of savvy citizens and influential leaders.
- SaysChris Locke: “The last two or three billion people in the world to access the Internet will do it via mobile phone.” Locke is the managing director of GSMA Development Fund, the development arm of the world’s largest mobile industry association. Read what else he has to say about the evolution of mobile technology in the developing world.
- Before mobile banking came to rural areas of the Philippines, customers might take as long as six hours to journey to a bank branch to conduct business. Now it takes minutes and only their fingers do the traveling.
We interviewed Jorge Santiago Avila Corrales, a 25-yr old honor roll student at the National University of Honduras, about security concerns and the role of youth in Honduras. He is the country coordinator of the Movimiento Jovenes Contra la Violencia (the Youth Movement Against Violence).
1. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. How has it affected you?
I am saddened by the fact that my brother is one of these statistics, since I lost him due to violence, and to know that the situation in Honduras is as it is. On the one hand, it makes me worry that future generations will have a very short life expectancy; on the other hand, I know that we young people are talented and have lots of good ideas, so we can effect change and highlight the good things about our country.
2. You have chosen not to become a perpetrator of violence. Who or what helped you make good decisions as a youth?
My parents have played a fundamental role; with their examples and guidance I have moved forward. Although we had scarce economic resources, they always instilled in me good values and principles. As the oldest of five siblings, I always had to be an example. Even living in the “hot spot” of Comayagüela, my desire for self-improvementkept me away from troubled groups and towards making decisions that brought me to where I am today.
3. What led you to get involved in the Movimiento Jovenes Contra la Violencia?
I joined the Movement in order to implement a methodology to develop youth dialogues. I really liked the Movement’s inclusion of young people from different social strata, religions, and ideologies, and I liked that I, a simple youth from a marginal neighborhood, could coordinate an activity like that. This shows that a youth fighting against violence can be anyone who wants to change his or her life and country, regardless of his or her background.
4. With approximately half of Honduras’ population under 25 years old, how does the Movimiento make a difference in Honduras?
A young person makes the difference when he or she begins to dream and to fight to bring those dreams to reality. As young people, we have a lot of things to propose and we are intelligent. In the Youth Movement against Violence, different talents come together and we channel them toward a common objective; our differences are secondary when the problem of violence is the main concern.
5. The Movimiento has had many accomplishments. What are one or two of your favorites?
Bringing together Honduran youth to show that we are capable of great things when we fight together; we can reach
great achievements. But definitely the greatest success is being able to give a voice to Honduran youth, bringing their proposals in front of decision makers and having credibility in society as a youth organization that is truly achieving a change in peoples’ attitudes nationwide. However, each of the activities that we have realized has been my “favorite”: the television program; the human chain in which hundreds of youth participated; our recent participation in the SICA [Central American Integration System] Presidents’ Summit this past June; and the concert “Singing No to Violence”; in sum, all of our activities are very appealing in that they have been planned by us, ourselves, with concrete goals and objectives.
6. Honduras has a lot of challenges, especially in economic growth, democracy, and security. With the help of the Movimiento, what do you hope to see change in the next few years?
First, I would like to see a personal change in the lives of all Hondurans, where they accept that changing from a negative direction to a positive one is the responsibility of all and that youth are not the problem, we are a part of the solution. I also hope that more and better opportunities arise for work, education, health, living conditions, social and human security, and occupation of free time for youth, and that in this way we will focus on the prevention of violence. With prevention, economic improvement for Honduran families, and true democracy, violence will diminish considerably.