We are always told that children are the future; that to have a successful future we must invest in them, giving them the opportunities and the education they need and deserve. The youth makes up 43% of the world’s population. This means there is a large potential force out there that can change the world. Of these youth, 90% live in the developing world. That means there is a huge importance to reach these youths. If given the proper tools, they could change poverty in their countries.
Ensuring that children in developing nations have access to education is crucial. By attending school, boys and girls learn skills that enable them to find professions besides agriculture and mothering, respectively. It gives them a sense of empowerment and self-esteem.
Government leaders and organizations have seen success in addressing policies and programs for the young populations of their countries. The key is to “create and support the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms.”
The United Nations has implemented Youth Empowerment and Employment Programs across the developing world. The programs work to provide business development and career advice to youth. There are three goals that the programs hope to address. First, institutional and policy development to ensure that government policies passed help youth gain employment. Second, the programs empower youth by creating and working with existing youth councils and youth leadership positions. Lastly, the programs provide employment and job experience by providing internships and directing student graduates to jobs.
In Sierra Leone, the results of these programs have been positive and have expanded businesses. In one community, there have been 204 jobs created, 400 students (half being women) supported to create their own businesses, and 150 interns placed in 20 institutions. Both men and women had access to the resources and saw success as the numbers show that about half of the empowered youth were women.
In the end, giving the youth education and training provided them opportunities to flourish. They were able to use their skills and make better lives for themselves. They were able to find jobs, which means that they were not left in dire poverty. Empowering the youth not only helps them to feel successful, but it also helps the local community by growing the economy.
– Katherine Hewitt
Sources: OECD, UN, UNCSD 2012, UNDP