Who is it for?

This page is for anyone who believes young people should have a voice in decisions that affect their future. Whether you are a youth worker, parent or a decision-maker, this section of the Resource Pool will help get the most accurate and up-to-date information about youth participation.

Youth participation as a process

In order for a process or structure, such as a Youth Council, or a youth related activity to be regarded as a genuine example of youth participation, it needs to fulfill three conditions:

  1. Young people need to take part in it

  2. Be genuinely empowered to express their views and opinions about the questions being discussed 

  3. Be given a real opportunity to have influence and some say over the outcome

Main definitions

While numerous other definitions of youth participation exist, there are three important characteristics that further help to understand what youth participation is:

  • Participation is a process

    Rather than a one-off event, participation is about the sustained engagement of young people in the decision-making process.

  • Participation happens at multiple levels

    Young people’s participation in decision-making happens in multiple spheres and at multiple levels, most frequently at the individual and local level (such as interpersonal, family, and schooling) but includes the regional, national and international arenas.

  • Partcipation is about power

    Participation in decision-making is about the sharing and distribution of power – from and between those that typically control the process (adults) to those they seek to engage (young people).

Participation goes beyond the political processes – though that is often the prime focus – and can include decision-making in healthcare, the workplace, education, and within social and economic life.

From left: copyright: Austrian National Youth Council