Tag Archives: youth participation

Child Rights and Child Protection in Low Resourced Settings: Case studies from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica

Khadijah PresentationDr. Khadijah Williams, 50/50 Youth Cluster member, presented at the 2018 Caribbean Child Research Conference (CCRC) at UWI, St. Augustine as part of her Village Academy Jamaica Team. Her focus was on child protection in low resourced settings, stemming from an ethnographic study and participatory action research completed in residential child care in Trinidad and Tobago and a social agricultural intervention in rural Jamaica with children and young people (CYP). Key messages to educators, practitioners and policymakers from her presentation included:

  • The importance of focusing on CYP participation, such that they develop skills for self-protection, especially in settings where specialist skills are lacking. Providing opportunities for CYP to take responsibility in their spaces provides great opportunities for developing agency, developing confidence and learning by trial and error in a managed space.
  • The importance of focusing on the quality of training for practitioners working in low resourced settings with emphasis on critical thinking, cultural sensitivity, advocacy, care ethics, innovative thinking, negotiation and networking skills. Practitioners should be equipped to successfully navigate the challenges associated with marginalised groups, thereby reducing the inequity that exists using their skills. The intellectual and caring qualities of practitioners are therefore vital to child protection. Colleges, universities and other training centres need to address the challenges of graduates not being adequately prepared to work in child welfare/protection due to curriculum deficiencies. By this, there needs to be psychological testing of potential candidates as well as training programmes which include critical self-reflection through human skills labs for the duration of training, an enhanced presentation of social work/child protection to candidates who are less inclined to become disillusioned upon beginning practice/training (requires adequate orientation to the profession), specialist training and post qualification training, regulation of practitioners as students and professionals. Students in this field should also be accountable to standards of practice by a local body through registration and licensure.
  • Creative and strategic ways of “indigenizing” practices of child welfare and child protection by interpreting and applying to the culture what are relevant practices. In training, managing practice requires a good understanding of how to interpret the realities of child welfare and protection and how policies and practices can be adapted to ensure that the best interests of children are paramount.
  • A problem exists in how the concept of ‘child rights’ and ‘child protection’ are interpreted. Child rights has not been received well in the Caribbean and is seen as a threat to adult authority. At the same time, people are concerned about the welfare of children but child protection services are not receiving the support they need from the wider public. Similar experiences are seen in other countries such as Canada, the USA and the UK, particularly among minority groups who hold on to their indigenous child care practices. Child protection has been problematised and if not managed well, excludes the majority of children who are out of state care and also require protection and nurturing so that they can enjoy successful lives. While a child rights approach is welcomed, it should be applied with caution, taking into account adults’ perception of it, children’s agency and their everyday experiences. A more positive, balanced and consistent approach to promoting child rights and child protection by policy makers, educators and practitioners is therefore required.

Khadijah Presentation 2In general, an argument for a less paternalistic approach to child rights/child protection/child welfare is being proposed in order for innovation and adaptability to take place in low resourced settings. However, this must be supported by robust safeguarding policies and practices, which are monitored by both practitioners, managers and CYP themselves.

Khadijah Williams is an educator, sociologist and social work practitioner, specialising in the welfare and protection of children and young people.

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ECLAC Releases New Resources in English on Youth Social Inclusion

Many of us in the anglophone Caribbean remain isolated from our neighbours in Latin America, missing opportunities for ideational exchange, policy dialogue and solidarity in communities of practice. In spite of the socio-economic, cultural and linguistic diversity within the region, Latin America and the Caribbean suffers from the maintenance of unhelpful geopolitical divisions which hide historical ties and situational similarities.

That’s often been the case in youth development where we …. So, I was particularly pleased to have been able to participate last year in a seminar organised by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on Social Inclusion and Youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. I was joined by members of the Caribbean youth movement – Tijani Christian – Chairman of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council (CRYC); Tarun Butcher – Belize CARICOM Youth Ambassador; Renee Cozier – Researcher at the UWI St. Augustine; and Rashad Brathwaite – Legal Advisor to the CRYC.

Participants in the ECLAC Seminar on Youth and Social InclusionWe benefitted from dialogue with youth  development practitioners, researchers and youth leaders of grassroots, national and transnational movements across Central and South America. We took note of shared challenges – particularly between small Caribbean states and Central American states – in relation to youth crime and violence, educational quality and political and policy participation. We took note of the programmes and projects implemented in other countries and relished in their admiration of our ongoing efforts towards a regionally-coordinated youth development framework in CARICOM. I contributed a presentation on the situation of youth economic exclusion in the Caribbean sub-region – “From Addressing Youth Employment and Work Challenges to Promoting Youth Economic Citizenship” – arguing for a shift in the policy discussion away from exclusive focus on temporary responses to cyclical changes in economies to focus on the adoption of integrated approaches to youth economic citizenship which will encourage longer-term employment, financial inclusion and economic empowerment of young people.

One of the panels at the seminar presented interesting findings from a study conducted by ECLAC on educational, health, security and political dimensions of youth social inclusion in selected Latin American countries. We were fortunate to receive a copy of the study which we hoped to share with our anglophone CARICOM network – BUT it was only available, at that time, in Spanish!

However, ECLAC has now made the book available in English, along with a Toolkit on analysis and policy design for youth social inclusion. Please use the links below to download these resources:

BOOK

Trucco, D., & Ullmann, H. (Eds.). (2016). Youth: realities and challenges for achieving development with equality. Santiago: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

TOOLKIT

Soto, H., Trucco, D., & Ullmann, H. (2015). Towards the Social Inclusion of Youth: Tools for analysis and policy design. Santiago, Chile: United Nations/ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Enjoy!

TAGR

SPOTLIGHT on Youth Participation through Volunteerism

Onyka Barrett – a partner in youth development and contributor to 50/50 Youth –  shares a perspective in the following SPOTLIGHT on the nexus between volunteerism and youth participation. Onyka Barrett is  the Regional Advisor/Programme Manager for National Volunteering (Caribbean) at Cuso International

Volunteerism: A vehicle for Mobilizing Youth Participation

Social integration, poverty alleviation and employment are at the heart of people’s participation in their societies (UNV 2011). As such a key dimension of poverty is a lack of voice and participation.

In the Caribbean, the voices of young women and men, especially those living in poverty, are often excluded from their society’s development agenda and this exclusion serves to foster a cycle of poverty, disenfranchising their ability to make positive decisions for themselves, families & communities.

The process of inclusion is especially important for youth to help them experience the sense of belonging and responsibility to become productive citizens and active participants in their society. Moreover, it influences young people’s perception of their ability to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Research conducted by CIVICUS, IAVE and UNV concludes that volunteerism is an important strategy for fostering people’s participation in social change and shaping development[1].

The fourth action point of the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (PAYE) speaks to “Promoting the participation of young people in decision-making”. Volunteerism has been identified as a critical tool to support youth involvement in Decision Making.

Cuso International is an international development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of skilled volunteers. As practitioners in the field of development through volunteerism, we believe that volunteers can share expertise and perspectives, and help to unlock potential wherever they are. For over fifty (50) years, Cuso International volunteers have worked with local partner organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, creating lasting impact on projects within the following sectors: Health, Education, Participation & Governance, Secure Livelihoods & Natural Resource Management, Gender & Climate Change.

At a time in the Caribbean region when young men and women are disproportionately affected by poverty, inequality, unemployment and crime, we see volunteerism as an effective vehicle for allowing these young persons to also input to the decision-making processes, policies and practices that influence these social conditions. As an organisation we see our role as one to strengthen the capacity of relevant institutions to ensure they are better able to create a space for continued input of the youth voice, through the fulfilment of their organisational mandates.

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The RISE Youth group delivers a dramatic presentation on the importance of volunteerism during Cuso International’s Caribbean Regional Symposium on National Volunteerism held on 25th October, 2013, held in Kingston, Jamaica.

Volunteerism is also a valuable tool for increasing employability skills, improving livelihoods and demonstrating active citizenship.

As such, alongside our international volunteering programme, we work with local partners to help them create or co-ordinate their own volunteering programmes. In this way, we have contributed to creating opportunities for young Jamaicans and Guyanese to engage in volunteerism as a way to own the process of development and influence decision-making processes. Over the past 50 years we have built an approach to improving participation & governance through volunteerism. This includes:

  • Working in partnership – We do not recruit local volunteers, but rather use our expertise to help our partner organisations create and run their own volunteering programmes.
  • Promoting active citizenship, learning, innovation and networking through volunteerism.
  • Advocating for enabling policy and legal environments conducive to the growth of in-country volunteering initiatives.
  • Engaging in reflective learning and knowledge sharing processes.
  • Working with the private sector –  increasing knowledge and awareness of the mechanisms for and value of supporting volunteering as an effective and sustainable tool to fight poverty and disadvantage
  • Promoting effective gender equality programming

As a part of Cuso’s strategy for youth empowerment across the region, we will expand our efforts for the empowerment of youth socially and economically to include five countries – Grenada, Dominica, Jamaica, Guyana and Belize. Apart from youth Participation, voice & volunteerism, we will also focus on Access to Justice and Entrepreneurship/Employment.

We envision a Caribbean region in which all young women and men, particularly the most marginalized and disadvantaged are active and responsible citizens within their societies and are valued as partners in the development process. We see volunteerism as a very effective tool for achieving this.

For more information on CUSO International initiatives, please contact:

Ms. Onyka Barrett – Regional Advisor/ Programme Manager, Cuso International in the Caribbean

onyka.barrett@cuso-lac.org; 1-876-929-8774


[1] CIVICUS, IAVE, UNV: Volunteering & Social Activitsm: Pathways for participation in human development, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, 2007/8.

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?