Creating opportunities for Marginalized Youth

Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi

In this webinar we discussed the importance of making young people feel a part of society, integrating them, and giving them the opportunity to build their future. It’s really important to have opportunities for youths, and especially the marginalized ones, since young people need to feel part of society. This could be achieved through engaging activities. Youths, in the age of 18–25, are in a transition phase and they need to feel part of society and take suitable actions to become active parts of society and especially in their community. World Learning implemented a 2-way program in 2019, the “Emerging Leaders Exchange for Ireland and Northern Ireland,” funded by the U.S. Department of State Office of Citizen Exchange. The program brought 16 adult mentors who specialized in youth leadership from Ireland and Northern Ireland to travel across the United States to understand challenges and solutions to creating successful opportunities for marginalized youth.

It’s important to find a meaningful reason to become part of youth’s engagement activities. One of the ways this could be achieved is to be engaged in affecting change amongst the marginalized youth. There are a lot of different ways to enthusiastically engage with youths despite systemic and societal barriers, but the most important is to overcome these challenges. Also, in the field of creating opportunities for marginalized youths, it’s crucial to adopt certain practices and communication tools to connect with youths, since they have different ways of communication and different cultural references. Youths can be engaged through numerous activities like movements, public forums, and organizations that support civil society or that extend youths’ voice. Also, it’s important for youths to be able to engage and reflect on government policies and have a voice in policy making.

Mentoring is an effective way of engaging youths, since they learn the importance of being involved and participating in policies and taking initiatives. The most successful age for youths to start taking action is in university. The most effective way to engage youths is by creating platforms where they are able to ask questions and feel that they are responsible for what they are doing. Also, youths need to increase their sense of responsibility on an individual level and on a group level. There’s a need for something else outside of systems to enrich youth’s confidence to themselves. It’s really challenging, because young people have passion but most of the times they have very high expectations, and they want to do all of the things in the same time and it’s very difficult to calm down, and sometimes it´s really frustrating, so they end up doing none of them or all of them in an ineffective way.

Key points

· Youths need to feel engaged in order to participate.

· Overcome societal and systemic barriers.

· Deal with the challenges that youths are facing.

· Develop an effective communication approach.

· Extend youths’ voice.

· Engage in government’s policies and policy making.

· Support youth’s initiatives.

· Increase the sense of responsibility.

· Develop communication platforms for exchanging ideas.

· You don’t have to be a reaction of something you don’t like, you need to be an action of something you like.


· Quscondy Abdulshafi is Regional Advisor, Sudan in Freedom House, Washington, DC.

· Lada Adekunle is coach and facilitator at the grassroot project based at Chicago Illinois.

· Niamh Clerkin is youth worker at Inishowen Development Partner/ICARE from Donegal, Ireland (2019 Emerging Leaders Exchange Alumni).

· Maskoor Usmani is the president of Aligarh Muslim University Student’s Union in Uttar Pradesh, India (2019 Religious Freedom & Interfaith Dialogue Exchange Alumni).

You can watch the virtual discussion on DCN’s Facebook Page.

This event is co-organized by Digital Communication Network SouthEast Europe Hub (DCN SEE) and World Learning and is part of DCNSEE’s Ideas in Action — Digital Engagement, a series of virtual events launched in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. DCNSEE is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Citizen Exchanges.

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