Involving young people in all aspects of youth programming and research can be viewed as an end in itself or as a means to an end. Some organizations emphasize youth participation as a basic right: if a program is designed to benefit young people, they should have input and involvement into how the program is developed and administered. Others see youth participation as a means of helping to achieve program goals for youth or communities. Youth participation can lead to outcomes such as improved knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors.
Programs use many different strategies to involve youth. In the past, youth participation generally meant peer education, youth advisory boards, and youth focus groups. In recent years, organizations have made efforts to integrate youth into programming, including advocacy efforts, governance, and evaluation. However, involving youth in meaningful activities can be challenging. Organizations must consider issues regarding selection, recruitment, and retention of young people, whose needs, skill levels, and backgrounds will vary. Also, the involvement of young people may require significant examination of organizational capacity and shifts in attitudes.
The International Youth Strategy by Amnesty International sets key directions for the period from 2017 to 2020 and provides a framework for implementation of youth work at the global, regional and national levels at all levels of the organization. Through this International Youth Strategy, Amnesty International envisions that young people play active roles in creating a world where everybody enjoys human rights. (2016)
This research report documents the multiple benefits of meaningful youth participation and leadership in reproductive health and rights (RHR) programs. It synthesizes global evidence from the field on how to foster authentic youth engagement, the impacts that result, and recommendations that can strengthen and scale this stream of programming investment.
Funded by the Oak Foundation, “the SVRI, in partnership with the International Centre, University of Bedfordshire, launched the Being Heard Project. A key component of this project was for SVRI to bring young people to the Forum and to develop a toolkit to guide the meaningful and ethical engagement of young people at SVRI Forums. The youth participants were aged 18-24-years old. This toolkit is primarily for use by the SVRI but also can be used by other organisations seeking to ensure meaningful and ethical inclusion of the voices of young people at international research forums and consultations on sexual violence or on topics of a similar focus. These may include conference and event organisers, researchers, academics, donors, government and non-governmental organisations.” This toolkit is “a resource for SVRI and others working in the field wanting to ensure meaningful and ethical engagement of young people at conferences or events.” (2018)
A statement on meaningful adolescent and youth engagement signed by various experts and leaders in international development. This resource contains a checklist and resource list. (No date)
Youth engagement in development: effective approaches and action-oriented recommendations for the field
This USAID document reviews the key ways in which youth can be engaged in international development programs. (2014)
This tool, developed by First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, aims “to assist organizations that are currently engaging with youth and those that are beginning the process to reflect on their organizations structures, culture and human and financial capacity to respectfully engage with young people. This is also a tool to assist young people to determine if the organization, or activity, they are engaged in meets their needs effectively, respectfully and meaningfully.” (2011)
Ensuring youth's right to participation and promotion of youth leadership in the development of sexual and reproductive health policies and programs
“The purpose of this article was to reflect on the concepts of adolescence and youth, summarize models and frameworks developed to conceptualize youth participation, and assess research that has attempted to evaluate the implementation and impact of youth participation in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We searched and critically reviewed relevant published reports and "gray literature" from the period 2000-2013.” (2015)
Child and Youth Participation in Programming for Children Affected by HIV/AIDS: A Review of the Evidence
This review, commissioned by the Christian Children’s Fund for The Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS identifies ‘existing frameworks for defining and evaluating child and youth involvement that may be applied in Christian Children’s Fund research, as well as identify gaps in the evidence base. (2007)”
“To ensure that youth are actively engaged, programs should regularly assess youth involvement and engagement. This online assessment tool can assist organizations and community partnerships in determining how they involve youth in programs, whether youth are becoming more engaged in the community, and if certain strategies are helping to retain youth.” This is a tool adapted from adapted from K.R. Jones (2006 - Youth-adult partnerships: Are you there yet? How to evaluate your youth development program). This document contains the questions and information about scoring. (No date)
“Members of the Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG) created this toolkit as a resource for practitioners, policy-makers, advocates, researchers, donors and governments to engage adolescent girls as partners and allies in activities and structures of institutions, programs, and projects. The goal of this toolkit is to enable institutions, programs, and project teams to strategically and meaningfully engage girls as equal and active participants in the leadership and development of their communities, nations, and the world. This is not a program design toolkit, it is a comprehensive resource that will answer the why, how, and when related to safe and effective adolescent girl engagement. By completing the Readiness Assessment Worksheet and Action Plan included in this toolkit and reviewing and ensuring alignment with the theory of change, principles, strategies, and measurements discussed, users of this toolkit can make the case for engaging adolescent girls; improve established or develop new girl engagement processes; and assess the extent to which their institution, program, or project is ready to meaningfully engage girls. (A series of case studies found in Appendix A provide illustrative examples of how programmers, advocates, and researchers have meaningfully engaged adolescent girls.) (2015)”
Twenty Years After International Conference on Population and Development: Where Are We With Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?
This article, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, discusses key recommendations for youth in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development and the post-2015 agenda, including a focus on youth participation (2015).
Ensuring Youth's Right to Participation and Promotion of Youth Leadership in the Development of Sexual and Reproductive Health Policies and Programs
This article, in the Journal of Adolescent Health, details concepts of adolescence and youth, summarizes models and frameworks developed to conceptualize youth participation, and assesses research that has attempted to evaluate the implementation and impact of youth participation in the SRHR field (2015).
This fact sheet, based on a Journal of Adolescent Health supplement, looks at which interventions have been undertaken thus far to foster youth participation, the key elements, and what has been successful. It also outlines relevant UN agreements and key resources for developing effective programs. The research and review articles were developed as part of an expert group meeting convened by the World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, and the International Women’s Health Coalition (2015).
This policy puts forward an overarching goal for youth development along with related objectives and outcomes to be achieved. It outlines a conceptual approach to youth in development and provides guiding principles and operational practices in support of USAID’s efforts to mainstream youth in development, carry out more effective programs, and elevate youth participation (2012).
Increasingly, donors and nongovernmental organizations involved in HIV prevention and reproductive health issues are attempting to make young people a more prominent part of programming. Youth should be involved from the start as full and active partners in all stages from conceptualization, design, implementation, feedback, and follow-up, advises the World Health Organization. In the reproductive health and HIV/AIDS fields, information about the impact of youth-adult partnerships is limited (2003).
Plan Germany brought together children from Colombia, Germany, Ecuador, India, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda to create a manual with exercises and activities to address school violence. Activities include identifying areas in school grounds which are less safe, understanding stereotypes, and helping someone who has been hurt or bullied (2009).
This guide seeks to increase meaningful youth participation in reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programming at an institutional and programmatic level. The target audience includes senior and middle management, staff involved in implementing activities, and youth who may be engaged in an organization's work. It includes an assessment and planning tool, a training curriculum, and a conceptual overview of issues. The background handouts discuss such issues as impact and include case studies of successful youth involvement (2005).
This guide covers basic ideas on community mobilization, youth participation, and participatory tools with examples from Africa. It provides tools, processes, and activities for mobilizing young people and communities to address youth reproductive health, including HIV prevention (2009).
Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: A Step by Step Guide to Creating Sustainable Youth-led Organizations Working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
This guide is a resource for young people interested in developing sustainable organizations, specifically those that address youth reproductive health rights. It draws on the experiences of two independent youth-led organizations and outlines strategic planning, governance structures, fundraising, communications, decision-making models, best practices, and lessons learned (2011).
This guide, created through an innovative process led by young people, aims to help build and harness young people as assets to development programs. The guide demonstrates how young people can positively contribute to development in four operational areas: organizational development, policy and planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. It also draws together case studies, resources, and practical "how to" guidance from around the world. Readers can also browse the guide and a number of associated resources directly online, section by section (2010).
This document contains a training guide that aims to prepare young people to become active in their communities, and some suggested community activities (2005).
Engaging Communities in Youth Reproductive Health and HIV Projects: A Guide to Participatory Assessments
This manual discusses how to conduct participatory assessments with youth and community members for improved youth reproductive health and HIV prevention, drawing on YouthNet’s experience in Namibia, Tanzania, and Ethiopia with youth-led projects using these tools (2006).
This paper shares promising examples of where National AIDS Authorities (NAAs) are working with young people to showcase activities and methods of youth participation that could be replicated; demonstrate the benefits to NAAs of working with young people; and start sharing solutions to some of the common barriers to working with young people faced by NAAs. The paper concludes with recommendations and general principles for youth participation (2010).
This review identifies and consolidates the existing body of academic and institutional research around youth engagement in livelihoods, reproductive health, and governance with a specific focus on the impact youth engagement has on development outcomes. The review draws from documents produced by NGOs, international agencies, governments, and youth organizations, to illustrate a point or widen the scope of the discourse, but the focus is on academic research. The review incorporates any documentation that refers to adolescents, young people and youth, and includes them under the general term youth (2016).