Meaningful youth engagement

Opportunity fund: Advancing Young People’s Engagement and Meaningful Participation in the PROSPECTS Partnership

Young people account for a significant portion of the forcibly displaced population. Forty per cent of all refugees are under 18 years of age, with young adults aged 18–24 constituting another 13 per cent of the total. Moreover, there are nearly 10 million IDPs between the ages of 15 and 24. These young people often have limited access to education, training, and decent work opportunities. They have few chances to develop their potential, voice concerns, provide solutions or advocate for constructive change. Yet, youth in these contexts demonstrate a strong willingness and commitment to lead and drive action that positively contributes to their communities. They can act as important agents in fostering peace and resilience.

To ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the efforts responding to the challenges faced by refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities, meaningful engagement with youth is critical. Moreover, young people as right-bearing individuals are entitled to participate in matters that affect them and their future and must be included in decision-making processes as well as in all stages of the policy and programme cycles.

Under the PROSPECTS Partnership, the ILO, UNHCR and UNICEF are coordinating a new initiative entitled “Advancing Young People’s Engagement and Meaningful Participation in the PROSPECTS Partnership”. The objective is to empower and meaningfully engage young people in forced displacement contexts so that they develop their skills and confidence to lead socio-economic and cultural activities, start an enterprise, address protection concerns, volunteer in their communities, advocate on issues that are important to them, and provide input to programming, including PROSPECTS.

While this new initiative aims to improve how we work for and with youth across PROSPECTS countries, there are three focus countries, namely, Ethiopia, Iraq and Uganda.

Under this initiative, the ILO is committed to boosting the meaningful engagement of young people in forced displacement contexts by harnessing the nexus between youth employment and youth participation. It will bring its extensive experience working for and with youth on employment issues, as well as specific expertise on creating and promoting decent jobs, extending social protection, and advancing youth rights, voices, and agency.

To this end, the ILO will implement interventions with two main objectives:

Empowering young people with skills to be effective partners and to lead and drive change in their communities and their lives

Recognizing the inherent leadership skills, capacities and potential of young people, this activity area focuses on empowering them as individuals, facilitating their transition into decent work, supporting them to network, empowering them to lead their own initiatives in their communities, and facilitating opportunities for their advocacy. This engagement and empowerment will contribute to their capacity to be self-reliant.

The ILO will contribute to this outcome in the following ways:
  1. Establishing Job Search Clubs in Ethiopia, Iraq and Uganda aimed at assisting young job seekers find decent jobs through career guidance and peer-to-peer support
  2. Implementing the Youth-to-Youth Fund in Ethiopia and Uganda; a competitive grant scheme designed to support refugee youth-led organizations with funding, capacity building and direct technical assistance to implement innovative, small-scale projects on youth entrepreneurship as a means to create decent jobs for youth.
  3. Running an advocacy and awareness campaign on youth rights to and at work in Iraq and Uganda
  4. Developing a dedicated community of practice within YouthForesight Community Forum, co-hosted by Decent Jobs for Youth and Generation Unlimited, to discuss displacement issues and share promising practices and lessons learnt

Strengthening PROSPECTS partners’ skills and capacities to achieve meaningful engagement of young people

This objective focuses on building the capacity of PROSPECTS staff and partners to engage and partner effectively with young people, putting them at the front and centre of our interventions and working together with them as equal partners to make our programming more youth-inclusive and responsive. Through the development and rolling out of different training materials and packages, agency staff and partners will learn how to work with and for young people more effectively by recognizing young people’s agency, creating spaces and mechanisms for them to engage in programming decisions, and ceding power to them.
The ILO will contribute to this outcome in the following ways:
  1. Updating the Rights @ Work for Youth Guide and Toolkit, tailoring it to the needs of youth in forced displacement contexts, localizing it to the country contexts in Iraq, Ethiopia and Uganda and running Training-of-Trainers
  2. Developing and rolling out a training package on Meaningful Youth Engagement and Employment for ILO staff
  3. Developing and rolling out a training package on Decent Work for Youth for PROSPECTS staff and partners
  4. Developing an inter-agency “What works” guide to document best practices and lessons learnt from implementing activities aimed at advancing youth engagement in PROSPECTS programming


Milagros Lazo Castro, Youth Employment and Participation Officer,

Eesha Moitra, Junior Technical Officer - Youth Employment,