Young people in development cooperation

Young people in development cooperation

In focus: Young people as key to development

Never before have there been so many young people in the world. Today, a quarter of the world's population, 1.8 billion people, is between 10 and 24 years old. Almost 90 per cent of them live in developing countries. terre des hommes switzerland places marginalised young people at the centre of its work, as their promotion is of crucial importance for today's global challenges.

Group photo with young people. Partly in blue t-shirts.
Young people are a wonderful motor for development. Their will to change is great.

In the 48 least developed countries, children and young people are the majority. This is a great potential for these countries. However, it only becomes a development opportunity if young people have education, freedom of choice and access to health. To be able to use their potential, the right course must be set. After all, young people are exposed to great dangers, especially in our programme countries. They are affected by particular health risks that may affect them not only in the immediate future but also for the rest of their lives.

Exposed to various dangers
Especially in the area of sexual and reproductive health and the rights of adolescent girls there is a great need for action in many countries (see right column). Young people are also particularly affected by unemployment. In all our programme countries, the high level of youth unemployment is a major challenge.

Youth Power as a motor for development
terre des hommes schweiz is committed to strengthening the skills of young people so that they can develop their potential as agents of change. A common thread running through the projects is that young people make themselves heard in local or national political processes. They are supported in actively standing up for their rights themselves. Through targeted support, youth initiatives and organisations often develop an impressive momentum of their own. Project experience shows: Sustainable commitment is created when young people can define for themselves what the most urgent problems are for them and develop their own proposals for solutions.

Against discrimination and exclusion
In order to strengthen the position of young people, terre des hommes schweiz supports projects that change the bad image of young people in society. Young people from disadvantaged communities are often labelled as violent. This reinforces the vicious circle of violence. The spiral of social exclusion is broken when young people experience identity and belonging in youth groups. When young people become active together, they can change a lot.

Sexual and reproductive health

Pregnant girls or young mothers are systematically excluded from the education system in our programme countries Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa and El Salvador. Of the estimated 22 million unsafe abortions every year, 15 percent affect young teenagers aged 15 to 19 years and 26 percent affect young women aged 20 to 24 years. In our programme countries it is precisely young people who are most at risk of becoming victims of violence. According to World Health Organization estimates, 30 percent of adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 years worldwide are affected by violence from their partner.

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