To determine how young people participate and collaborate across different sectors, practitioners need to identify various barriers and opportunities. With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the CEPPS DRG Cross-Sectoral Initiative Youth Advisory Group (YAG) conducted a global survey which reached more than 200 participants across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. While survey respondents believed that cross-sectoral initiatives are important and shared examples of their cross-sectoral work, they also indicated that corruption and bribery, inadequate resources, skills, and funding, as well as unequal access to opportunities and knowledge are among the main barriers preventing youth participation. They noted that public speaking, emotional intelligence, teamwork, leadership, communications, advocacy, technology, and conflict resolution were required skills for greater youth participation.
Based on the survey results, the YAG prioritized socializing and making CEPPS resources more accessible to young people from different backgrounds through explanatory videos and executive summaries in the cross-sectoral toolkit and social behavior change toolkit. These resources are designed to familiarize more young leaders with the tools developed by CEPPS, enabling them to enhance their own skills, but also for the execution of projects and initiatives that promote youth empowerment and effective participation in political processes in their own communities.
The data is clear that young people are actively working across sectors and creating meaningful change in their communities. As one young woman from Albania shared:
“I have collaborated with organizations related to political areas as well as organizations related to good governance to create two youth conferences where we discussed the most important challenges that youth face in Albania and our continuous work in promoting and giving their problems a voice through media and public.”
But many young people continue to face barriers to their participation, including social or legal restrictions, as noted by survey respondents. As a young man from Kenya shared, “Most sectors look up to elder people on [the] basis of their experience rather than young people who may be better placed to provide valid solutions.” These challenges are also compounded for young people with diverse identities, such as young Indigenous people, young people with disabilities, and young people from LGBTQI+ communities, whom respondents cited as facing additional discrimination and stigma.
As CEPPS engages young people globally, it will prioritize applying a cross-sectoral lens to more effectively encourage the inclusion and participation of diverse groups of young people. Integrating cross-sectoral approaches into CEPPS programming can work to address these barriers and encourage broad youth leadership in all democratic processes.