Somali Girls and young women face additional barriers to participation or inspire young people to cultivate their creative confidence? this is due to in civic, political and economic life. Despite significant strides globally in securing women’s right to vote, women often continue to face either legal or societal restriction in exercising this right – for example, needing to have a certain level of formal education to be allowed to vote. Even where women’s right to electoral participation is unimpeded, the low representation of women in political positions highlights the stark and persistent reality of gender inequality in the realm of political participation
Moreover, young women still face more unfavorable job prospects and economic climates than their male counterparts. In many parts of the world, women are still relegated to work in the home or in the informal economy. When they do work in the formal employment sector, they often receive lower salaries and fewer benefits than their male counterparts. Stark differences in parental leave and rights, with men typically receiving very limited parental leave, also have a significant impact on gender balance and parity within the employment sector.
However young people can often face multiple forms of discrimination in civic, political, and economic life. For example, as a result of their age young people may face barriers to voting and run for office, while they may be taken less seriously or offered less attractive employment packages than older counterparts because of their youth.
In addition to age, young people from minority or ethnic backgrounds often face an extra layer of discrimination, making it tougher for them to get a footing on the employment ladder. A name on a resume, an accent, the colour of one’s skin, gender, the address of the applicant, to name but a few, can all act as barriers to young people being considered for a job.
Whereas youth organizations and civil society structures can provide an important platform for young people to engage civically and participate actively in society, many young people continue to experience marginalization from participating in such forums. Young people with disabilities, indigenous youth, and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds may face greater challenges in participating in youth structures in mainstream society, particularly when such societies are homogenous in their make up.
We can cultivate their creative and confidence if we do the following:
- Increase internships
With limited employment possibilities on offer, young people are increasingly turning to internships as a gateway to the labor market. Although internships can provide an excellent opportunity for young people to learn a profession and develop skills and capabilities to better equip them for employment, there has been a trend in recent years for employers to offer unpaid internships while allowing no possibility for progression within the organization. Moreover, it is not unusual for many young people to ‘internship hop’, completing two, three and more, often unpaid, internships before they are able to secure a regular job. This situation hinders young people’s ability to become economically independent and to lead sustainable and independent lives.
Indeed, many young people do not have the economic capacity to be able to support themselves through a sequence of under or unpaid internships, and internships are increasingly being regarded as a pastime of the elite. This makes it even more difficult for disadvantaged youth to get a footing on the career ladder. In addition, many view the increasing use of internships to fulfill otherwise regular paid jobs as the exploitation of youth as a free workforce in an unforgiving economic climate.
2. Civic engagement and promoting youth-led organizations
Youth-led organizations often fill the gap where young people cannot yet officially vote or run for office. Youth-led organizations provide an important platform for young people to discuss and advocate for issues of concern to them, whether at the local, national or international level. Whether political or thematic based, youth platforms foster an environment for young people to develop skills and qualities better equipping them with life and employment skills. Indeed, many politicians have gotten their ‘start’ through participation in their parties’ youth structure.
Despite their value, youth organizations stress the precarious position their organizational structures are in. Youth organizations often lack sustainable operational funding, often only being for grants and funding on a project by project basis. Such funding makes creating a sustainable structure and long-term planning for youth organizations difficult and limits the possibilities of how they can work responsively to ideas and initiatives as they arise.
Even when operational funding is available, youth organizations may still be deemed ineligible to apply as a result of their legal status and age criteria. Many granting and funding offers require organizations to be fully registered non-profit structures and to be able to prove a number of years of accounts and financial stability. In particular, youth organizations in their infancy may face significant challenges in establishing themselves under the requisite conditions, particularly if a young person is deemed ‘too young’ to be an official administrator and financially responsible for the organization.