Youth Empowerment Youth Economic Empowerment - Youth development is centered on developing the capacity of the individual youth. Youth empowerment is focused on creating greater community change that, in its methods, relies on the development of individual capacity. Therefore organizations operating with a youth development framework are not addressing social inequities, but rather developing the individual within an unjust society and not changing the source of the problem.

“Empowerment theory connects individual well-being with the larger social and political environment, and suggests that people need opportunities to become active in community decision making in order to improve their lives, organizations, and communities.”

While various researchers have demonstrated that the theory is sound, there is little record of the implementation, effectiveness, and accountability of youth empowerment.6 Some researchers say the reason for this lack of evidence is simple: It is difficult to implement a theory, one with an intrinsic challenge to include the voice, ideas, and experiences of young people at the tables where important decisions are made.7 A further difficulty: youth empowerment implementation requires young people to be involved not only in the day-to-day programming decisions but also in organizational governance. It is only through this immersion that communities will be able to promote the development of all youth and adults.

Others point to the inherent biases of traditional research methods, in which evaluating the effectiveness of youth empowerment is stymied due to cultural differences, diversity of communities where implemented, and a lack of trust between evaluators and communities.9 As the reach of community-based participatory research methods expands, so too will the literature of the effectiveness of implementing the theory of youth empowerment.


Young people can have powerful and positive effects on adults, organizations, and communities.12 Through empowering processes such as learning decision-making skills, critical awareness, managing resources, and working with others, both youth and adults become better equipped as change agents. On the other side, empowered outcomes allow individuals to gain a sense of control, critical awareness and participatory awareness.

It is appropriate to include youth in community change initiatives. First, young people are disproportionately involved in and affected by the problems that beset communities and states.14 Second, the developmental stage of young people make them integral for effective change in organizations and communities, particularly those in which they hold a stake, such as youth obesity, teen tobacco use, underage drinking, and access to health care. During adolescence, many young people are driven to explore issues of social justice where they are creating and experimenting with their own principles and political ideas, leading many to become involved in cause-based action.

Third, youth can feel empowered through their relationships with adults, organizations, and communities. Involving youth in decision-making processes provides them with the potential opportunities and support of relevancy, voice, cause-based action, skill-building, and affirmation that the research shows to consistently help youth achieve mastery, compassion, and strong mental health.

One way to overcome such obstacles is to join forces with like-minded youth to to join IICCI and create organizations that improve youth’s opportunities.

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Indo-OIC Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Indo-OIC Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Indo-OIC Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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