Think about the proliferation of polling data about half the world’s population under the age of 30 and declarations resulting from youth summits such as the 2015 UN Major Group for Children & Youth. A compilation in a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies outlines 10 priorities and clear demands. This analysis packs even more punch because it includes the International Youth Foundation’s Global Youth Wellbeing Index.
A few highlights:
- Greater investment in education should include human rights, anti-discrimination, democracy and citizenship.
- Forget accolades about fresh and interesting ideas from young people.
- Data collection about youth civic engagement needs urgent attention.
- Meaningful youth input in decision making, specifically resource allocation and outcomes.
Countries that perform best in youth civic participation are largely those that rank near the bottom of overall rankings in the Index. Colombia, South Africa, India, Tanzania, Indonesia, Ghana, Uganda, Thailand, Australia, and the United Kingdom are rated the best, and of these countries, only three (Australia, United Kingdom, and Thailand) rank in the top ten.
The United States ranks 6th overall but 20th in youth citizen involvement. Reasons given include the lack of youth policies or outdated ones, higher age to run for elected office, negative youth perception, with young people feeling less valued and under served by their government.
Let’s hope the audience for this Pocket Guide for Policymakers take seriously these priorities. As the authors warn, “If we do not heed this call from our next generation, we do so at our own peril.”