Citizen Participation in the Global Youth Wellbeing Index

2009 Elections in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Josh Etsey and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade used under a creative commons license.

2009 Elections in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Josh Etsey and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade used under a creative commons license.

Citizen participation is critical to fostering social cohesion, inclusive development outcomes, and to ensuring transparency and accountability. Many of us know from personal experience, that the opportunities that we had for meaningful and positive participation in our youth, encouraged leadership and “soft” skills development, and set us up for lifelong engagement in civic and political processes.

With strength in numbers, youth today represent a powerful and innovative force to constructively advocate for, and create solutions to community issues through volunteering, advisory councils, social media and communications, voting, and collaboration.

Yet global surveys reveal youth often feel excluded from society and political processes, and believe their voices remain unheard in larger political dialogues. Such exclusion perpetuates apathy and frustration; can fuel disruptive or at times violent behavior and contributes to economic and social instability. Continue reading

Where’s the Economic Opportunity for the World’s Youth: Findings from the Global Youth Wellbeing Index

Students attend a maths class in Bosso, Nigeria. Thirty Nigerian refugees are studying at the school in addition to 300 Niger children.

Students attend a math class in Bosso, Nigeria. Thirty Nigerian refugees are studying at the school in addition to 300 Niger children. Photo taken from UNHCR’s flickr photostream used under a creative commons license.

By Nicole Goldin

Economic opportunity is a critical driver of individual and family security, and national growth, development and social progress. Harnessing the capacity of youth in particular, as producers and consumers, can be a boon to both national and the global economy alike. Yet around the world, youth in developed and emerging economies continue to face significant barriers to fulfill their economic promise and prospects. Around the world, young people are up to 4 times more likely to be unemployed than the general working population, with global youth unemployment rising above 13%, up from 11.5 percent in 2007. Less than 40% of youth worldwide are banked.

The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, released in April by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) with principal funding from Hilton Worldwide, economic opportunity was one of six domains and sub-indices included. The Index considers the state of youth in 30 countries around the world, which hold nearly 70 percent of the world’s youth population. Of the forty indicators that comprise the Index, seven make up the economic opportunity domain: GDP per capita; economic climate and competitiveness; youth lending from a financial institution; youth involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity; youth unemployment; youth not in education, employment, or training (NEET), and youths’ income and wealth expectation. Continue reading

International Youth Day: Focusing on Mental Health

By Nicole Goldin and Katherine Perry

IYD_2014August 12th is International Youth Day, and offers a time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing global youth.  This year’s theme, “Youth and Mental Health,” brings the often sidelined issue of mental health to the fore of the global health and youth development conversation. The United Nations recently estimated that a shocking 20 percent of global youth experience mental health challenges. Leaders are taking note.  In Africa for example, recognizing that mental health is a serious issue, and accounts for “a huge burden of disease and disability, and where in general less than 1 percent  of the already small health budgets are spent on these disorders,” medical experts from several countries recently published a Declaration on Mental Health in Africa in an effort to promote access to services.

Facilitating better mental health among youth is a complex challenge, as mental health is rooted in both biology and circumstance. A recent study in the United Kingdom found that the long-term unemployment crisis has had harmful effects on youths’ mental wellbeing. In a survey conducted by the Prince’s Trust, 40 percent of jobless youth “faced symptoms of mental illness…as a direct result of being unemployed.”  At the same time, the social and economic costs of underinvestment in youth mental health services are large; the United States’ National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that “70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system also have mental health disorders.”

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