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06.01.16

New youth-led research reveals extent of barriers facing young people

Catalin Parascan
Catalin Parascan

New research released today reveals the extent to which increasing restrictions on civil society are putting pressure on children and young people around the world, despite ever greater awareness of the role that young people can play in driving change and development.

The report, commissioned by Restless Development, War Child UK and Youth Business International, found that in many countries around the world, children and young people's lives are being affected by factors such as:

  • Ineffective rule of law
  • Lack of trust between established youth organisations and more informal youth movements
  • Lack of funding for youth organisations
  • Increasing scarcity of decent quality work

The findings come via research conducted by a team of young researchers in 18 countries, as well as through a global survey of over 800 youth activists and youth organisations. You can download the full report (108 pages) here or the highlights report (20 pages) here.

Of the 18 research projects conducted around the world, 16 discovered serious challenges faced by young people as they seek to complete their education, participate in society and prepare themselves for work. The research sheds new light on the connection between youth and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which entered force on 1 January 2016. It highlights a contradiction: while the involvement of young people is widely acknowledged to be crucial if the SDGs are to succeed, there are an increasing number of barriers inhibiting this involvement. The report argues that if we are to have any chance of making meaningful progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, stronger policies and interventions will be needed to open up space for children and young people. Further findings:

  • Increasing restrictions on funding are limiting the scope of the work of youth organisations and movements, with 50% of those surveyed able to last one year or less at current funding and operating levels;
  • One young researcher, Lawrence Ndambuki Muli, found that despite apparent work in Africa to enshrine the rights and responsibilities of young Africans, engagement remains largely tokenistic and ineffective;
  • Another, Roli Mahajan from India, found that trust in the rule of law is very low in respect to women's safety in urban environments, causing young women to feel great restrictions in their personal freedoms and ability to seek employment.

The research also found some positives:

  • Salim Salamah in Syria found that in the absence of effective rule of law in Syria, young people have stepped up to participate and plug gaps in humanitarian assistance and justice;
  • Gioel Gioacchino in Italy found that the provision of informal skills-building support, such as mentoring and vocational training, can give young people the tools to start their own business and create jobs for others;
  • Organisations and youth movements are becoming increasingly aware of the value of cross-sector partnerships, with an overwhelming majority of respondents looking to build new or closer relationships with businesses.

For the full report, including longer research reports from the Global Young Researchers, go to www.fromrhetorictoaction.org.

About the Case for Space initiative

The Case for Space initiative was set up by three leading youth agencies - Restless Development, War Child UK, and Youth Business International - to learn more about the barriers for children and young people, particularly in the light of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative, which is funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development, commissioned Youth Policy Labs to research and write the From Rhetoric to Action report.

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