Young people come in all shapes and sizes!
Are you a young person? What makes you different from your peers?
The biggest assumption in the world is that young people are of the same or a similar kind of nature.
Often youth is defined as monochromic a picture with only one color. This has continued to make the youth populations faceless and nameless mass. Young people as a system is part of our society’s fabric however, they are skilled, geographically, sexually and policy resources differently.
In addition, they come in different, shapes, sizes, desires ambitions and are affected by different structural barriers. Although, when decisions are made, little attention is given to the diverse nature of young people and their needs.
Young LGBTQ+ persons, young people with disabilities, young people in humanitarian settings, young people who are taking up parental roles, young people in hard to reach, and young people in war zones.
This has constantly turned different efforts either by the government or other stakeholders counterproductive to solving problems facing the young population. It has proved challenging to address the vast sexual health challenges youth face from HIV and STIs, teen pregnancy, sexual and gender-based violence among other poor health and social outcomes. Despite various commitments made at international and national levels to advance the health of young people including sexual health.
We must understand that young people are not a static group. The youth population is ever-changing. They are coping with behavioral growth psychological adaptation, learning, and access to different essential needs like education and health. In their later stages in life, they get more concerned about stability, dignity, fairness, jobs, livelihood, and inclusion.
This is possible if programs are tailored to be every youth-responsive from understanding external factors/barriers that might be limiting the young person from fully reaching their full potential.
The generalized solutions on education, health, and employment drive inequality. Some policy documents acknowledge the huge difference in the youth population, however, programs and services tend to view youth as a homogenous mass thus failing to address specific challenges and opportunities for youth.
There are many opportunities to engage youth collectively for development although key steps to consider are:
- Knowing youth audiences (Age, sex, geographical location): who are they, what do they want and how do they perceive their relationship with government, political life, and civil society?
- Developing a successful strategy for engaging with youth.
- Have constant interaction with the youth to understand their ever-changing needs.
- Ensure that youth policies goal goes beyond youth engagement to influencing youth leadership.
- Involve youth in decision making spaces (in all their diversity)
Young people are not the same, ensuring a keen consideration to meaningful inclusion in opportunities, health and education are important.