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Children and Youth in Advocacy and Societal Change

Children and youth have a central place in helping bring about better societies and an inalienable right to be heard. The IAYG family’s advancing the engagement of youth in advocacy and civil society stretches across every region of operation and diverse sectors of community change, from the global education movement to environmental advocacy to the fight for children’s rights. 

Every Child Deserves a Voice

All young people deserve a voice, especially on issues and in developments that matter most sharply to their lives. Too often, in the societal conversations that strongly impact the futures and opportunities of children and youth, their interests and voices are underrepresented and unheard. Far too often and for too long, international institutions, interest groups, advocacy organizations, and civil society have focused on young people as benefactors of their work, rather than as vital participants, partners, and catalysts of change. Including children and youth in civil society and conversations on community change will lead to better solutions for young people and more sustainable decisions – to the benefit of all people. For a future that will be driven by today’s youth, today’s conversations must incorporate their voices, interests, and potential.

Advancing the place of children & youth in advocacy, interest groups, and civil society movements is integral to the IAYG family’s mandate to create global opportunity for all young people and seek representation for their interests. The expansive leadership the IAYG family and its partners exercise in advancing youth representation extend across every sector of civil society. From environmental policy, to the global education movement, to interest groups on children’s rights, we’re working to enrich the place of young people as societal stakeholders, civic participants, members of civil society, and advocates for a better world.

The IAYG family’s vision is a world where every child has the opportunity to speak, participate, and advocate for their interests – and one where young people aren’t just interests considered, but are directly incorporated in the most pressing conversations of our time. Achieving this vision will require the full engagement of interest groups, advocacy movements, and civil society across the board. Incorporating and engaging more stakeholders is at the core of the IAYG family’s commitment moving forward.

Our Focus

Transforming the engagement of children & youth in advocacy necessitates alliances with partners across broad swathes of public policy actors, advocacy groups, civil society, community-based organizations, and decision makers at all levels. The IAYG family’s worldwide leadership engaging young people in advocacy and civil society involves expansive partnerships with civil society, community-based organizations, and public-sector actors. We build coalitions with like-minded institutions, including advocacy groups, policy-focused coalitions, and other community organizations, to directly expand representation of young people in civil society and sector decision-making. We assist governments in preparing young people for engagement, and provide technical and programmatic assistance in furthering the engagement of children & youth within policy and advocacy sectors. The IAYG family and its partners also work with international institutions to advance the participation of young people, united in a shared commitment to ensuring that children and youth always have a place in the international bodies that represent them and help safeguard their promise.

At regional and national levels, IAYG family institutions and organizations – for example, the National Campaign for Youth in Education Policy, CYCLE initiatives, Clubs for Peace, and USS regional programmes – directly create paths to engagement within key areas of advocacy and civil society, work with communities to remove societal barriers and change attitudes, expand education for engagement to empower more young people to engage, and build multi-sector coalitions for youth participation.

Built out of the IAYG family’s mandate as the world’s champion of a generation of engaged, empowered young people with the opportunity to lead, we are also directly engaged in supporting and mobilizing youth-led advocacy groups, civil society movements, and forums for public engagement. We provide expansive support to groups and community-based organizations that advance children’s rights as one of the world’s most prominent catalytic actors for youth representation.  

As delineated by the IAYG family’s General Framework on Children and Youth in Advocacy, the IAYG family’s work expanding the integration of children & youth in advocacy, civil society, and societal change focuses on seven areas:

  • Poverty alleviation
  • Food and agriculture policy
  • Access to education and economic opportunity
  • Environmental preservation and action on climate change
  • Urban sustainability and inclusive growth
  • Access to water and sanitation
  • Effective governance, peace, and strong political systems
These areas will remain the primary focuses of the IAYG family’s work in this sector as the next Framework is unveiled in July 2019. After a period of public comment and review, the next Framework will come into force on 1 January 2020, emphasizing expanded efforts to build private-sector partnerships and stressing larger, multi-sector coalitions for youth engagement in community change.

Discover some of the IAYG family’s work in children, youth, and advocacy:

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