by Abdallah Diwan
Published on: Jun 1, 2003

I mean to enlighten the youth about the concept of “Youth Empowerment” which may seem vague to a majority of us. I have read, collected data and finally put the essence of the issue in the following few lines.
“It is us the YOUTH who can change our tomorrow and build our world.”
As the youth empowerment was one of our six E's and was added by DR. Ismail Serageldin at the Alexandria summit to the main 5 E's. And is one of our bases for the YES campaign and in our framework of action, I am sending you the definition of youth empowerment and what is it exactly.

Youth Empowerment
Defining empowerment:
The concept of youth empowerment sprang from the need to enable young people to have a say in decisions which affect them and to have lowed and heard voices. In their communiqué, Commonwealth Youth Ministers considered that "pursuing the objective of youth empowerment gave young people the economic, social, and cultural advancement of their families and countries and to gain self-fulfillment"

Youth empowerment has two dimensions:
Young people are empowered when they acknowledge that they have or can create choices in life, are aware of implications of those choices, make an informed decision freely, take action based on that decision and accept responsibility for the consequences of that action.

Empowering young people means creating and supporting the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others. These enabling conditions fall into four broad categories: an economic and social base; political will, adequate resource allocation and supportive legal and administrative frameworks; a stable environment of equality, peace and democracy; and access to knowledge, information and skills, and a positive value system.

Rationale for youth empowerment
The empowerment of young people is everybody's business and involves the concerted efforts of a number of key stakeholders, including governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the media, educational and other intuitions, the private sector, family, kinship and community networks, youth peer groups and, above all, young people themselves.

Youth empowerment is based on the belief that young people are themselves the best resource for promoting their development and that they must be both architects and agents in meeting the challenges and solving the problem faced in today's world and in the new millennium.

Youth development work has, in the past, been and in many cases still is centered on a social welfare approach. This views young people as presenting problems which need to be solved through the intervention of old people. This approach is limited, perceiving young people as passive objects upon which interventions must act, rather than as active subjects participating in the shaping of their lives and communities. It tends to be based on a range of negative assumption about young people that they are, at best, unable to take care of them selves and , at worst, responsible for crime and violence. This view tends to perpetuate the very problems it seeks to solve.

An awareness of the limitations of the welfare approach led, in the 1980s, to the emergence of the participation approach, which has various interpretations, ranging from mere consultation listening to people's opinions to give them an active role in decision making processes on issues that affect their lives.

You may contact the author: Abdallah Diwan, at

« return.