Today's generation of young people is the largest in history. Over 3 billion people – nearly half of the world's population – are under the age of 25. Almost 90% of all young people live in developing countries. Young people are a valuable asset to their countries and investing in them brings tremendous social and economic benefits. They also face challenges – including violence and crime, unemployment and HIV/AIDS – that undermine their rights and create significant social and economic costs to society.
There is growing momentum on youth participation within the development community. Governments around the world are increasingly supporting youth ministries, youth policies and youth programmes, and there is now greater recognition that young people are the future of their countries’ development. But there is still a long way to go to realise this potential.
The Youth Participation Guide aims to help build and harness young people as assets. It has been developed through an innovative process led by young people, which itself has reinforced their capacity to participate and lead. The Guide challenges negative stereotypes of youth and demonstrates how young people can positively contribute to development in four operational areas: organisational 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 and draws on Sharing and Learning Networks established in two focus countries - Nepal and Uganda. The case studies that illustrate this focus on three thematic areas that are important to young people:
- governance, voice and accountability
- post-conflict transitions and livelihoods
- sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The process of developing the Guide has stimulated considerable interest in Nepal and Uganda and we hope that the Sharing and Learning Networks will continue there. Meanwhile, the resources and lessons will grow through the on-line guide and website http://www.ygproject.org.
Nemat (Minouche) Shafik
Department for International Development