“Youth voice refers to the distinct ideas, opinions, attitudes, knowledge, and actions of young people as a collective body. The term youth voice often groups together a diversity of perspectives and experiences, regardless of backgrounds, identities, and cultural differences. It is frequently associated with the successful application of a variety of youth development activities, including youth-led social action, youth research and assessment, leadership training, and campaigning. Additional research has shown that engaging youth voice is an essential element of effective organisational development among community and youth-serving organizations’ (Definition: Extract from Wiki/Mile)
YouthVoice Now and Youth Voice Network are two 2020 projects in development by Young Voices Heard to better amplify, report on, and connect young leaders and youth-led activities today. [Go to the YouthVoice menu to find examples of YouthNow interviews with changemakers]. This is in response to young leaders assertions that they are tired of being referred to as ‘the leaders of tomorrow, but want to be the leaders of today’ and a growing unease amongst Generation Y and Z about the track record of leadership by older generations. Even when they are invited to participate or co-lead, there is concerned when meetings are in secret, they cannot set an agenda, aren’t given feedback or their input is ignored. This kind of ‘participation’ might be well-meaning but not meaningful. It is perhaps worse than no participation at all because it is at best tokenistic. Some young people want to use their youthvoice independently and equally, to call out and challenge stakeholders on the issues they are concerned about and hold ‘adults’ to account so that they can get back being children and young people.
There is no one-stop independent platform dedicated to reporting news and opportunities across the youth-led movement, or offering national peer recognition of best practice.
“A broad international movement exists to promote youth voice, born from earlier youth service and youth rights movements”. They have evolved into both formal (youth councils) and informal (individually led /issue based) mechanisms with varying degrees of recognition and impact. “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first international mechanism to stipulate the systemic engagement of youth voice. Specific aims are stated in Articles 5 and 12 that clearly acknowledge the youth have a voice, that youth voice is constantly changing, and that all areas of our society are morally responsible for engaging youth voice”.
Criticism “Ephebiphobia and adultism have been identified as the factors preventing widespread recognition of youth voice throughout communities. Additionally, it is commonly acknowledged that “little quantitative research has been conducted regarding the issue of youth voice”, while the qualitative research on youth voice is often seen as minimally effective, as well, due to a limited scope focused on youth participation in decision-making and opinion-sharing.
Youth voice also faces criticism from the youth rights movement that it does not go far enough, or that it is using youth. Critics claim that youth voice advocates only advance a shallow analysis of ageism and propose solutions that do not go far enough to give youth any substantive power in society. Coupled with youth service this can lead to young people being pressured to help fix adult problems without ever addressing the problems youth face.”
Youth voice is also sometimes criticised for being un-representative because formal opportunities only attract those with access or are already engaged, is self-selecting and relies too heavily on the double-benefit principles balance in favour of benefiting the participant (C.V. building / Egocentric) with only temporary benefit to others.
Youth empowerment “is a process where children and young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. They do this by addressing their situation and then take action in order to improve their access to resources and transform their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. Youth empowerment aims to improve quality of life. Youth empowerment is achieved through participation in youth empowerment programs. However scholars argue that children’s rights implementation should go beyond learning about formal rights and procedures to give birth to a concrete experience of rights. There are numerous models that youth empowerment programs use that help youth achieve empowerment. A variety of youth empowerment initiatives are underway around the world. These programs can be through non-profit organisations, government organisations, schools or private organisations.”
Youth engagement is the sentiment young people feel towards a particular person, activity, place or outcome. It has been a focus of youth development, public policy and social change movements for at least forty years. According to a Cornell University program, “Youth engagement is one of the buzzwords in the youth development field. Similar terms are youth voice, youth involvement, youth participation, and youth in governance.”
Youth participation is the active engagement of young people throughout their own communities. It is often used as a shorthand for youth participation in any many forms, including decision-making, sports, schools and any activity where young people are not historically engaged.”
These definitions are an extract & adapted from Wiki/Mile 1/2020