Young people: Potential going to waste
Their potential and energy for innovation are enormous. It is they who will make up the society of tomorrow. That's why it is essential to involve them in today's processes of change and development. They need to be listened to and supported in their concerns if changes are to become permanently rooted.
Having their say instead of taking orders
Development work today - if it is done well - no longer operates with a system of givers and takers. A participative approach is now standard, yet when it comes to young people, it does not always go without saying that they will be involved, unfortunately. Too often, young people are just on the receiving end of orders. It is only when a youth participation approach is adopted that they realise their concerns are being taken seriously. This empowers them and enables them to develop and implement their initiatives.
Youth participation works
The experience of terre des hommes schweiz shows that youth participation does have lasting effects. Children and young people are given the skills to formulate their rights effectively and to claim them. This means they can, for example, protect themselves from being exploited at work. Their participation is also vital in preventing violence. Only by involving the people who have been affected - the victims and sometimes the perpetrators as well - can alternatives to violence be found. In many of our projects young people are also developing initiatives to create an income for themselves. This gives them better prospects so that they do not leave their homes to work on the plantations or live in city slums.