10 ideas to mainstream youth into your organization

What is youth mainstreaming: Youth mainstreaming is a key approach to ensure that young people benefit equally from all programmes. Youth mainstreaming sees young people’s participation not only as a means to achieve effective project implementation but as an end in itself.

The following 10 ideas may serve as an inspiration on how to put young people in the forefront, when societies and borders open after Covid-19.

10 ideas to mainstream youth into your work

Idea 1) Internal youth audit; Conduct an internal youth audit of existing policies and programmes to provide the basis of a comprehensive youth mainstreaming and gender-responsive approaches to youth in all policies and programmes. Development organisations should strengthen its technical capacity on mainstreaming and build alliances with national and regional mainstreaming experts.

Idea 2) Youth advisory panels; Establish youth advisory panels in your organisation with a mandate to provide a critical ‘youth-lens’ in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes to ensure they are relevant and responsive to youth needs. This could e.g. be supplemented with bi-annual youth partner consultations on current priorities and programmes;

Idea 3) Youth focal point; Establish a Youth Focal Point function to ensure a systematic focus on youth in programme and policies. The Youth Focal Point must be given the necessary resources and space to monitor and evaluate, if youth targets and indicators have been prioritised and implemented.

Idea 4) Youth spokesperson; Appoint youth from partner organisations to represent the organisation towards government, donors and media in relation to youth issues to ensure that your interventions are presented from a youth perspective and contributing to building youth leadership.

Idea 5) Capacity building; Build the capacity of staff to understand and address relevant youth issues and provide regular youth training for the senior management. This includes technical advice and skills to mainstream youth in the existing programmes and enhancing the capacity of staff to engage in relevant local and national youth policy processes.

Idea 6) Recruitment strategy; Develop a recruitment strategy that promotes affirmative action of competent young people for professional positions, as well as members of advisory and governance boards. Recruitment processes must be specifically designed to attract young people and consequently have a strong focus on social media and outreach to youth organisations.

Idea 7) Youth interns; Provide opportunities for both short and long-term youth internships (1-6 months) at the secretariat, i.e. national university students or recent graduates who can provide advice and validate youth priorities and interventions in specific policies and programmes.

Idea 8) Co-creation; Involve young people in co-creation of programmes to promote shared ownership and innovative approaches of reaching the youth. Co-creation of programmes, e.g. in youth labs, is more likely to ensure relevance, new perspectives and spark innovation.

Idea 9) Youth policy; Become more strategically involved in regional youth policy processes e.g. in the African Union (AU) and allocate dedicated funding for youth participation in relevant regional youth conferences. Development organisations should also enhance its cooperation with Southern-based youth networks that are involved in AU youth policy processes.

Idea 10) National Youth Day; Make National Youth Day an event of celebration together with local and national key youth partners, e.g. by facilitating an annual national youth conferences where young people can strategize, promote joint collaboration and voice their concerns towards key stakeholders.

Finally, gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women must be expanded to youth, acknowledging that young women and girls face double discrimination – being both female and young. Applying a gender lens to youth will enhance the understanding on how to ensure that gender-related programmes are youth-responsive, and vice versa; ensure that youth-related programmes are gender inclusive.

Want to know more? Contact Morten Emil on Policy Advice: meh@policyadvice.dk