Youth inclusion is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Defining youth cohorts allows funders and implementers to assess the opportunities and constraints facing specific groups of youth, and to design interventions accordingly. Segmentation also helps establish realistic targets and ensures that the profile of youth participants is aligned with the activity purpose.
Youth cohorts are most commonly categorized by age bandings, namely the stages of adolescence that mark major developmental stages: Early Adolescence (10-14 years), Adolescence (15-19 years), Emerging Adulthood (20-24 years), and Transition into Adulthood (25-29 years). Generalizing “youth” according to overly broad age range banding (e.g., all people ages 15-30) leads to the unintended exclusion of certain groups over others. In many cultures youth cohorts are differentiated by biological change (i.e., onset of puberty) or by cultural milestones (i.e., by rituals, responsibilities, and legal rights) (Annex 1, 2, and 3 of Volume II describe youth milestones in greater detail). Youth cohorts can also be defined by the young person’s identity, which can be shaped by a number of social, economic, and cultural factors, such as those listed in the table below.
Table: Factors Other than Age That Shape Youth Identity and Define Youth Segments
Source: Proctor, H., Blum, R., Feige, D., (2018). Feed the Future Project Design Guide for Youth-Inclusive Agriculture and Food Systems: Volume I - Project Design.
In gender-sensitive or imbalanced contexts, consider the appropriateness of sex-segregated interventions. A youth-sensitive gender analysis (Volume 1, Annex 4) will reveal differences in female and male youth’s needs, constraints, and opportunities with respect to agriculture, food systems, resilience capacities, and nutrition, and will show the influence of traditional social and gender roles and norms on youth engagement in food systems.
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