Meaningfully Engaging Youth to End Child Marriage
To effectively address child marriage, it’s crucial that young people’s voices are heard and that they participate meaningfully. After all, whether organizations are working on the prevention of child marriage, or whether they are working on the mitigation of negative consequences of child marriage, young people are center to their work. All the more reason to make young people part of the work too! Research shows that engaging young people in programming and policy making results in the empowerment of both young people and adults and it makes programs and policies more effective, as they directly reflect the actuals needs of the target group. But what exactly is meaningful youth participation?
CHOICE'S MYP RESOURCES
The Flower of Participation, developed by CHOICE for Youth & Sexuality with support from YouAct, is a tool that can help you to understand the concept of Meaningful Youth Participation and to distinguish between different forms of meaningful and non-meaningful participation. The model uses the metaphor of a flower to describe on what basis MYP is built and what are preconditions to make it flourish. The roots of the Flower represent the core elements of MYP - the more of the core elements are present, the more meaningful the participation of young people is. The presence of the core elements results in different forms of youth participation, with the insect representing non-meaningful youth participation and the leaves and petals representing meaningful youth participation. The soil, representing the commitment from young people, provides nutrition to the roots which is essential for MYP to happen. On top of that, the water and the sun are needed to make the Flower grow. As such, capacity strengthening and an enabling environment are preconditions for MYP to occur. This Flower is surrounded by the air, representing inclusivity.
Understanding youth participation
Different representations of the various elements of the Flower lead to different forms of youth participation, some more meaningful than others. Pictured above is a youth-adult partnership, you can see that all the elements are present which makes it meaningful. However, tokenism, pictured below, is an example of what participation looks like when it isn't meaningful.
CHOICE can help you understand in what form youth participation is present in your program or organisation and how you could make it more meaningful. You can download a printable narrative of the Flower of Participation that will walk you through all the elements of the Flower and meaningful youth participation and we offer various other resources that will help you understand and implement it.
Yes I Do-Alliance
MYP is both a strategic goal and a cross-cutting strategy in the Yes I Do program, a program against child marriage, teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation/cutting in Africa and Asia, implemented by CHOICE for Youth & Sexuality, Plan Netherlands (lead organisation), Amref Flying Doctors, Rutgers and Royal Tropical Institute.