There are over 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 living in the world today. This represents the largest global youth cohort in history. With roughly 89% of youth residing in the developing world, young people make up well over half of the national population in many countries. It’s a big group – and it’s growing!
Despite their sizeable presence, youth are a surprisingly underserved and under engaged demographic. Young people increasingly face challenges that are universal- few opportunities to contribute to their community’s development, rising unemployment rates, difficulty in accessing education, mounting health concerns and the degradation of their environments. In response to these challenges, YCI’s programs are focused within four key sectors that address the needs of developing country youth:
Livelihoods | In the developing world, employment prospects are extremely limited for young people. The International Labour Office estimates that 88.2 million young women and men are unemployed globally, accounting for 47% of all unemployed persons. YCI addresses global youth employment challenges by supporting young people in earning a sustainable living. YCI achieves this by providing basic livelihood and employability training to youth, supporting small business development and aiding access to microgrants and microcredit facilities through our global partnerships.
Leadership | Young people are largely disenfranchised from key decision-making forums, where governance is often hierarchical and vested in elders. YCI believes in the importance of engaging youth in these processes and helps young people assume leadership roles within their communities. In doing so YCI collaborates with community leaders to create mentorship opportunities; assists with the formation and management of youth-led committees; identifies appropriate community forums for youth participation; and provides training opportunities for young people to strengthen their leadership skills.
Health | Young people who are healthy are better equipped to contribute to their communities today and in the future. For this reason, health is a central issue and is connected to all other considerations in supporting this demographic. And with nearly half of the world’s inhabitants under the age of 20, health programming and services targeted towards youth represent an incredibly large contribution towards addressing key global health challenges. YCI delivers education, prevention and support services that focus on the most important issues affecting young people’s health today: sexual and reproductive health, family planning, HIV/AIDS (the first cause of mortality in youth worldwide), malaria, tuberculosis and substance abuse.
Environment | Natural resources for future generations are depleting - however, those that will manage this crisis in the future tend not to be engaged in the environmental decision-making forums of the present. YCI believes that youth not only have vested concerns in tomorrow’s resources, but also have a responsibility to be part of managing them today. YCI works to engage youth in education, advocacy, policy and work projects that reflect the environmental interests and concerns of young people. Our projects address key environmental issues such as water and sanitation, recycling and waste management, sustainable agriculture and conservation.