Youth empowerment is an attitudinal, structural, and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority, and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including youth and adults. Youth empowerment is often addressed as a gateway to intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. Many local, state, provincial, regional, national, and international government agencies and nonprofit community-based organizations provide programs centered on youth empowerment.
Activities involved therein may focus on youth-led media, youth rights, youth councils, youth activism, youth involvement in community decision-making, and other methods. Everyone seems to be talking about empowerment these days, female empowerment, worker’s empowerment, and youth empowerment are just some of the phrases that are flying around. But what exactly does that empowerment mean, and how can one apply the concept to their own life? History of Youth Empowerment: The youth empowerment movement started in the 1960s, when students at universities across the United States began to get involved in politics and protests on campus.Order now
Even earlier than that, campuses and students had played a large role in the Civil Rights movement and in other political and social movements, but for the first time youth and students began to be seen as political and social actors. In response to the Vietnam War, student protests and organizations sprung up, and students demanded the right to be heard. Since those rebellious days, youth empowerment has calmed down significantly, but it continues to be an important part of childhood development and an essential phase of the transition to adulthood.
Typically taking place during High School and college years, the transition is accompanied by increased involvement in student activities and a growing independence in making life choices and choosing a personal direction. At the same time, young teens making that transition to adulthood learn to make their own decisions and stick by them, and hopefully to learn from their own mistakes. It is a time when young people being to go out into the world on their own and to learn how to succeed on their own terms.
How to encourage youth empowerment: Because youth empowerment and personal growth are so important for young people to learn, the process should be encouraged and understood. During this difficult period of transition, young adults often have many questions and issues, and parents and families should try to respond in a sensitive way to the specific needs of the children. One of the most common and beneficial ways to encourage personal growth and empowerment is to give young adults increased responsibilities in their own lives.
An after-school job, for example, can be a great way to teach a growing child about the important of time management, while giving them a chance to earn some personal money. Just as important as letting them take the job is letting them use the money they earn for the things they like. Secondly, school organizations and clubs are also a place for growing teens to become involved in their community and in a variety of tasks and hobbies. Anything from the school newspaper to drama clubs to a music group can teach your child valuable skills while helping them explore their own interests.
Finally, summer internships can also be a valuable way to give children and students work experience and job skills at a young age. Internships can also get youth thinking about possible career opportunities or directions for their own future, and are a great opportunity for making them feel independent and on their own. Possible problems with youth empowerment: As children grow older and begin to set out on their own path and take charge of their lives, it is common for problems to arise between them and their parents.
Often, a rebellious phase accompanies issues of youth empowerment, and a child may feel they need additional space from their family to grown in their own direction and under their own control. The best thing to do in these cases is often for a parent or family to show that they care about heir child and to encourage them to explore on their own, with the support of the family when they need it. Letting children take on their own challenges and treating them with respect and dignity as they do so is likely to bring out a more responsible and respectful attitude in the child themselves.
And while giving advice is a common desire by parents who want to spare their children the pain of making mistakes, often learning through trial and error is an integral part of growing up and becoming self-empowered. As children grow up and begin to set out on their own, through youth empowerment and increased self-direction, they should be encouraged and given positive feedback. Being a child is hard enough, especially in the transition to adulthood, and understanding and sensitive parents can be a major help in successfully making that transition.
Empowering Youth As I have stated a little while ago, the major thrust of our new National Youth Policy is Youth Empowerment. This is being achieved through various initiatives taken by both the Goverm-nent and Non Governmental Organizations. The reduction of the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 in the year 1989 and a legislative measure taken in 1992 providing for reservation of one third of the seats for women in the village administrative units called Panachayats have enabled young people and young women to influence the decision making process in the country.
Youth participation in the decision making bodies has been considerably enhanced by these decisions. It has been rightly recognized that access to education and training has to be augmented so that youth can develop their competencies. The National Policy of Education(NPE) 1986, has provided for designing both formal and non-formal education programmes involving youth. Our literacy rate has increased to 52. 91 percent in 1991. Today, 94 percent of the rural habitations have school facHities. Gross enrolment ratio at the primary stage has also increased to 100 percent in most of the states. Now we have a goal of Education for All by 2000 A.
D. To achieve, this goal, vigorous efforts are being made. The education system is periodically evaluated and curricula updated in accordance with the advancements in Science and Technology. Efforts are also made to make the education relevant to the market needs and economic demands without compromising on the ethical and moral values of education. In the employment sector, the thrust is on providing opportunities for self employment, entrepreneurship development and skill training. Special employment schemes like, National Employment Assurance Scheme(EAS), Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojana, Jawhar Rojgar Yojana, etc. have been introduced wherein minimum employment and wage earning opportunities are provided for poor yquth in the rural areas. The initiatives have been further strengthened with the promotion and development of Small Scale Industries. 16 million persons were employed in the small scale sector in 1996-97. An important scheme called, Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment(TRYSEM) is being implemented. Young women are provided training in skills and encouraged to form thrift and micro credit groups. To provide access to information on education, employment and other services, dissemination of information is accorded high priority.
Employment guidance and counseling centres have been functioning in the country. Human rights education and awareness on gender equity are being carried out through youth organizations. A National Commission for Women was set up by the Government of India and a National Human Rights Commission had also been set up to advise on the policies and programmes. Young people are involved in health services. India has a well designed health prograrnmes. Young people are involved in creating awareness on health issues, more particularly on drug abuse, HlV/AI1DS etc.
Primary Health Centres and Village Health Guides provide basic health care facilities to the youth. To prevent drug abuse by young people, Government of India has adopted the strategy of supply control and demand reduction of drugs through stringent enforcement of Anti Narcotic Laws, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts and involvement of community and youth in the process. “Every generation needs a new revolution. ~ Thomas Jefferson The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation. – Pearl S. Buck Empowerment can mean many different things. To families on Supernanny, empowerment is learning to use the tools that stabilize their homes. To oppressed women in foreign lands, empowerment is embracing an opportunity to make a choice or participate in government. To youth, empowerment is knowing someone’s listening to their ideas and recognizing them as valuable members of society. Whether we’re mayors, teachers, neighbors or parents, we all have roles to play in empowering youth. We do it — or don’t do it– in most interactions we have with young people.
On Pass the Torch, I write frequently about how young people take initiative and accomplish outstanding things (case in point- Heather Wilder — you can still vote for her through July 25. ) There are countless examples of youth doing great things, raising money for charity, or making connections for those who can’t. But empowering youth is also the small, daily opportunities adults have with young people, to ask their opinions, listen to their ideas, teach them new skills or even follow their lead. Each interaction like this helps kids to find their own voices, to figure out their strengths, and to pursue what inspires them.
In the course of writing the book, Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things, I had the opportunity to interview dozens of inspiring people. One of the most memorable quotes for me, was shared by Julia Hampton, United Way Youth Initiative Coordinator: Empowerment is having confidence because someone has spoken it into you. It’s the track coach that gives the pep talk to push through the harmless, but uncomfortable side-ache. It’s the dad that helps his son prepare to confront a friend by role-playing the conversation.
It’s the teacher that notices a student’s strength in writing and encourages her to submit an essay. It’s the business owner that says “yes” to the kid who asks to place a food drive box in the entry. It’s the neighbor that sends her kids to a neighborhood book club to support the 11-year-old who’s organizing it. It’s every day seeing children, just as we see adults. It’s recognizing their lack of experience or education doesn’t mean their input isn’t valid. And it’s a willingness to concede that every once in a while… …their insight is better than our own.