Achieving youth empowerment

Youth empowerment is a process whereby children and young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. They do this by addressing their situation and improving their access to resources, transforming their consciousness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. Youth empowerment aims to improve quality of life and it is achieved through participation in youth empowerment programmes. However, scholars argue that children’s rights implementation should go beyond learning about formal rights and procedures to give birth to concrete experience of rights. There are numerous models that youth empowerment programmes use to help youths to achieve empowerment around the world. These programmes can be through non-profit organisations, government organisations, schools or private organisations.

 Youth empowerment is different from youth development because development is centred on individuals, while empowerment is focused on creating greater community change and relies on the development of individuals’ capacity. Empowerment movements, including youth empowerment, originate, gain momentum, become viable, and become institutionalised. Youth empowerment is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. Activities may focus on youth-led media, youth rights, youth councils, youth activism, and youth involvement in community decision-making,and the methods. A major element of empowerment is the empowerment theory which focuses on processes that enable participation; enhance control through shared decision making, and create opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills.

Empowerment theory suggests that engaging youth in pro-social, meaningful, and community-enhancing activities that youth themselves define and control, helps youths to gain vital skills, responsibilities, and confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults. Youth empowerment has six interdependent dimensions which are: psychological, community, organisational, economics, social and cultural. Through these dimensions of empowerment, programmes can be done on empowering youths in one or more aspects of their lives.

Youth empowerment programmes are aimed at creating healthier and higher quality of life for underprivileged or at-risk youths. The five competencies of a healthy youth are positive sense of self, self-control, decision-making skills, a moral system of beliefs and pro-social connectedness. Developmental interventions and programmes have to be anchored on these competencies that define position outcomes of healthy youth. Over the last two decades, Quality Of Life [QOL] has emerged as an important unit of measurement to evaluate the success of empowerment programmes. It is used as a goal of programs and as well as an indicator of effectiveness. However, there is no standard definition of QOL. A person’s QOL is dependent upon subjective evaluation of the individual aspects of that individual’s life. Positive developmental settings promote youth competence, confidence and connection. Support for efficacy and mattering specifically focuses on youths being active, instrumental agents of change in their communities in collective decision-making, and adults listen to and respect their voice. There are various types of empowerment programmes across the globe that empower youths through different tactics. Programmes can operate in a variety of settings. The majority of programmes operate in more than one setting, which may be a key factor in their success.            The beneficial outcomes of youth empowerment programmes are improved behaviour, increased academic achievement, increased self-esteem and increased self-efficacy. Programmes are aimed at empowering women and young girls regardless of specific goals or methods, empowering effects include improving women’s wellbeing, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, and enhancing social status by teaching technical and organisation skills. Other youth empowerment programmes are focused on poverty alleviation. Living standards for those living in poverty are declining, causing forms of deprivation relating to food, resources and education. Programmes aimed at empowering poor youths work towards livelihood protection or livelihood promotion. There are also empowering movements that use the social action model, aiming at making disadvantaged people to become empowered, organised and educated so that they may create change. These programmes advocate constructive confrontations to enhance the social power of people who are considered disadvantaged.

Another model is the 5C’s model that focuses on emphasizing competence, confidence, connection, character and caring. A sixth C of contribution to society was later added. This model focuses primarily on engagement of a key marker of positive youth development, emphasising the need to foster initiative.

  • Adedoyin writes in via princessdorry25@gmail.com

Source (Nigerian Tribune)