The three-lens approach
In 2007 the Youth Working Group of the DFID - Civil Society Children and Youth Network commissioned a youth mapping study.4 The study assessed current approaches to youth within DFID’s policy and programming, and found that both DFID staff at headquarters and at a country level were increasingly aware of the need to address youth issues. The study advocated that development assistance should work for the benefit of youth (as target beneficiaries), with youth as partners, and be shaped by youth as leaders (Figure 1). This is an assets approach to youth participation in development.
Figure 1: The three-lens approach to youth participation
Adapted from: World Bank Development report 2007.
Explanation of the lens approach
- It is important for institutions and practitioners to consider all three lenses; they are not mutually exclusive. Youth participation in development is often a combination of all three (see Table 1 for definitions).
- This approach is dynamic: depending on the local context and the development intervention one particular lens may be more appropriate or have more prominence/focus.
- The different lenses may be used with different groups of young people during an intervention/initiative, i.e., young leaders may be reaching out to new groups of young people as targets.
- It might appear that youth participation is just about young partners or leaders, and not young beneficiaries. However, participation must also develop from a foundational base.
- The ultimate aim is to develop youth as partners and leaders in development. This is based on youth having agency: their capacity to act, their skills and capabilities and their ability to change their own lives.
- Youth operating as partners and leaders are inherently beneficiaries too.
Table 1: Definitions of beneficiaries, partners and leaders
|Working for youth as beneficiaries||
Defined as the basics of a good intervention for young people:
|Engaging with youth as partners||
|Supporting youth as leaders||
- 4. DFID/Maguire, S. (2007) ‘Youth Mapping Study – DFID’s Approach to Young People’