Youth in Action: New Publication Focuses on TCI’s Meaningful Youth Engagement Approach

Nov 11, 2021

Contributors: Lily Merritt and Lisa Mwaikambo

By 2030, 60% of the urban population is expected to be under the age of 30. Youth-led and youth-serving organizations are prepared for this reality with programming that is built around meaningful youth engagement (MYE). In 2018, adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) stakeholders convened to create a Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Youth and Adolescent Engagement, acknowledging that youth play a critical role in shaping policies that affect their lives, and that their engagement is key to achieving health and development goals. In 2019, AYSRH stakeholders convened again to document best practices for MYE and produced the Youth Investment, Engagement and Leadership Development (YIELD) Report.

The Challenge Initiative (TCI) is leading the way to a future where MYE is second nature in all AYSRH programming. Youth are active partners and participants in all levels of programming across the 42 cities that have a distinct AYSRH focus. Youth promote healthy behaviors and generate demand among their peers; engage community gatekeepers in intergenerational dialogues to overcome cultural and religious barriers to youth’s access of reproductive health information and services; and work as advocates in governance structures for increased funding for AYSRH interventions, reduced costs of contraceptives and improved health service quality for youth.

TCI supports local organizations and governments in strengthening youth participation and engagement by:

  1. Consulting youth prior to developing a program
  2. Involving youth as partners
  3. Integrating youth throughout the project lifecycle to ensure accountability
  4. Institutionalizing and mainstreaming youth participation and leadership at the organizational level
  5. Monitoring and tracking the impact of youth engagement

TCI has just published “Youth in Action: How TCI is Fostering Meaningful Youth Engagement in Sexual and Reproductive Health Programming” – a case study that documents how TCI helps local governments operationalize the YIELD report’s recommendations, as outlined in the following three critical directions. Below are a few examples from the case study.

Supporting a systems-based approach to mainstreaming youth participation

In Kenya, 10 youth ambassadors are included in the Program Implementation Team, led by the local government, to represent the perspectives and needs of fellow youth in the coordination, design and implementation of AYSRH activities. The youth ambassadors have been trained in promoting AYSRH and they participate in not only program or activity design but also policy and strategy development discussions.

Coordinating stakeholders to facilitate agenda setting, knowledge sharing, capacity building and collaboration

In India, TCI supported youth-led city consultation workshops that brought together youth and key decision-makers, including the chief medical officer, to identify gaps in the provision of AYSRH services. As a result, fixed-day static services were established monthly for first-time parents.

Acting as catalysts for expanding and supporting youth-led and youth-centered initiatives in ways that allow them to have lasting, multi-level impact

Across Francophone West Africa, TCI supported empowerment programs to develop youth leadership, confidence and advocacy skills. Youth in the region were then successful in advocating for reduced and fixed cost for contraceptives across all of Cotonou and UCOZ, coupons for free health services for youth and fixed-day services for youth at public health facilities.

TCI is supporting local governments around the world in adopting a youth-inclusive approach to the design and delivery of interventions impacting their communities. The diverse examples from TCI’s Youth in Action case study show how each TCI hub has fostered MYE and provides insight on how the approach can be adapted to various health system, governance and cultural contexts.

  Download the case study on TCI’s MYE approach:

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Find out more about TCI’s work with adolescents and youth by watching the video below: