Monthly Archives: July 2013

SPOTLIGHT: New Study on Youth Political Participation

Gerardo Berthin shares a new study he has prepared on youth political participation at local levels in Latin America which has been published by the UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

EXPLORING THE DYNAMICS OF YOUTH POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN LATIN AMERICA

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(click on the image above to download study)

This study systematizes and documents the practices and experiences of youth political
participation at the local level in four municipalities of four countries in Latin America: Cartagena in Colombia; San Carlos in Nicaragua; Alajuelita in Costa Rica; and El Cercado, in the Dominican Republic. It analyses the main trends, opportunities and challenges facing youth participation at the local level, from the perspectives of the stakeholders themselves of these 4 localities, which comprise a group of young men and women between the ages of 18 and 28.

The study shows that in respect of opportunities and challenges for youth political participation, it is equally important to focus on inputs from individuals as it is to focus on social organizations. This may be important in understanding how young people provide inputs and under what conditions. That is, it is important to analyse the virtuous circle of firstly, how and why young people perceive the openness of organizations in their context (whether political, social, international, educational or religious) to their demands, concerns, interest and participation; secondly, how this generates commitment and participation; and finally how this translates into the youth seeing their voice reflected in political processes and their results. The study supports the approach taken in the UN System Wide Action Plan on Youth (SWAP).

For more information contact gerardo.berthin@undp.org or luis.ruiz@undp.org, and visit the UNDP Regional Bureau’s Democratic Governance Knowledge and Service Platform.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Children and Young People’s Participation Rights in Residential Care

Khadijah Williams-Peters – a member of the 50/50 Youth Cluster – shares with us a little about her current research…

Hi,

I am currently completing doctoral studies on children and young people’s (CYP) participation rights in Trinidad and Tobago. I have spent over two years observing decision making processes related to the day-to-day lives of children in care. My study also involves reviews of policy making processes affecting them and participation models in several countries including the UK, Sweden, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, South and West Africa, the US and Ireland so that a broad, cultural understanding can be achieved. Hopefully, an indigenous approach to operationalising children’s participation rights can be understood and applied, starting with the most vulnerable group of CYP.

In addition to being a student and lecturer, I am also a practitioner as you might have read on my profile, which means that I am constantly working to integrate theory and practice. My most recent project has been with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Trinidad and Tobago (an NGO), where I have developed a training model for mentors working with children in care. The model integrates social pedagogy and children’s participation to build positive adult-child interactions. The children have been instrumental is shaping the mentorship experience by providing feedback on policies and procedures which affect their lives. I have also recently completed work with CYP in care, preparing them to transition from a large-scale institutional setting to a small-scale family environment. The participatory approach I used was useful in helping the CYP to contribute to the living arrangements and organisation of their new space. This is work in progress… In fact, participation work with CYP is always work in progress.

In June 2013, I visited Investing in Children in Durham, UK, one of the leading agencies in the UK which promotes CYP participation, where I was able to get a feel of how CYP participation rights is operationalised. This organisation provides some useful examples of what is needed to make CYP participation really work. For instance, the experience of that organisation demonstrates that the following are needed to support participation work:

  • a good understanding of power relations;
  • adult willingness and preparedness to share power with children and to discard unhealthy assumptions about children and young people being incompetent;  and
  • adequate human and financial resources.

Against the background of my ongoing research, I wonder  how others view children and youth participation (CYP). So, let me end with a question for reflection:

When we talk about CYP participation, as adults, are we really ready to listen to children and young people, ready to take their views seriously by incorporating their ideas into plans, and to invest the necessary time to ensure that their participation is meaningful and share power with them?