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With their energy, skills and creativity, young people in developing countries have the potential to be the driving force for social change, strong economies and vibrant democracies. There are 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15-24 worldwide, making this the largest youth population the world has ever seen. With 90% living in low-income countries, harnessing the energy and strength of young women and men to become active citizens is core to Oxfam's goal of transformational change. 

We are working jointly with youth to challenge barriers that prevent them from enjoying their rights, participating fully in society and being an effective voice in decision-making processes. The Youth as Active Citizens (YAC) initiative supports new youth initiatives globally.

What we do

Through our work with youth, Oxfam seeks to:

  • Strengthen the partnership between young people, partners and Oxfam
  • Build a learning community and network of Oxfam, partners and young people across the confederation to share the learning, experience and best practices
  • Link youth with our influencing capacity, power and gender analysis and national to global linkages
  • Involve young people in all aspects of our work including: identifying priorities; project design; implementation; and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEAL) work
  • In partnership with young people and other NGOs, pursue funding opportunities to strengthen Oxfam's impact in a variety of thematic areas

Our approach

Oxfam's work with youth places youth at the heart of programme design to ensure that programmes are led not only for, but also with and by youth. Much of our work involves co-creation in programme design. This means that youth are not only the focus of our work, but they are also involved in the determining the shape and scope of it. 

This approach enables more context specific and relevant development, promotes shared ownership and sparks innovation. We also work closely with civil society, governments and the private sector to ensure our work is relevant, scalable and sustainable.

Programme priorities

Youth employment

Oxfam focuses on empowering youth for employment through: improved vocational training; increasing employment opportunities via the development of small and medium enterprises; building the number of youth entrepreneurs; and removing the barriers that face marginalized young women. This programme is global, with emphasis on Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. A key focus of our work is on the promotion of active citizenship. 

Youth and conflict

Our work with youth in conflict focuses on youth at risk of radicalization and extremism. There is a strong link between lack of employment opportunities youth radicalization, therefore, our work with youth and conflict builds upon our youth employment programmes and links to a wide range of conflict transformation projects in East and Central Africa, as well as the Sahel.

Youth participation

Children and youth have a right to free, quality health and education services. They also have a right to voice their needs, to hold their governments to account, and to be listened to as members of society and rights-holders: as 'active citizens'. Oxfam's supports young people to openly, freely and effectively use their energy and skills to contribute to creating transformational change in society. We believe that youth participation entails the active, informed, voluntary and meaningful involvement of youth in decision-making that affects them and their communities.

Working with young people

On International Youth Day (12 August 2016) we look at why working with youth is so important.