UNICEF Workshop – Developing Indicators for Adolescent’s Participation

At the end of January, Child to Child Director Tricia Young and Chair Gerison Lansdown attended a UNICEF workshop in New York, along with technical experts from a range of other agencies including WorldVision and Oxfam. The objective was to inform the development of individual-level outcome indicators for adolescent participation, which UNICEF will incorporate within its Adolescent Country Tracker. This tracker includes a range of indicators that can be used to determine progress towards realisation of adolescents’ rights in key areas including education, health and protection. This monitoring of rights is now being expanded to include indicators on adolescents’ participation.

Drawing on the work of Child to Child over nearly 40 years and with inputs from expert advisers including Dr. Sonal Zaveri, Tricia and Gerison provided a number of recommendations for the development of these indicators. Their key points are summarised below:

  1. Meaningful adolescent participation works in a cycle of empowerment (see image): Adolescents initially need to be empowered within (e.g. through self-confidence, resilience), then they realise their “power with” (by acting in concert with others) and this will then lead to them being empowered as agents of change (able to act on their own).
    Graphic unicef
  2. Meaningful participation takes place at three levels:
    • Consultative: where there is recognition that adolescents can make a meaningful contribution, but the process is managed by adults.
    • Collaboration: where adults initiate processes but create partnerships with adolescents.
    • Adolescent-led: where space is created for adolescents to explore their own agendas and the role of adults is to facilitate and support them.
  3. At each level adolescents can participate at all stages of a process, from initial analysis and planning to implementation and evaluation.
  4. Each level must be characterised by the nine basic requirements elaborated in the CRC General Comment 12 for quality participation: it must be transparent and informative, relevant, voluntary, respectful, adolescent friendly, inclusive, safe, supported by trained adults and accountable.
  5. It is important to adopt an ecological approach and create meaningful opportunities and spaces to enable children to exercise their rights.
  6. Adults must be trained to facilitate adolescent participation.
  7. All children must be included, not just the ‘easiest to engage’ ones. How can unengaged children be reached – by either adults or children themselves?
  8. Evaluation of the potential risks and achievements of engagement and participation must take place consistently and regularly.

We look forward to supporting UNICEF’s work developing these indicators of adolescent participation, which have the potential for positive impact on a global scale.