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This report will demonstrate the significance of Youth Participation as an instrument for effective advocacy and compare the principles of the facilitated frameworks – The Active Participation Model and the YingYang Model. In this paper, an outline of the two researched conceptual frameworks and further examination of their functionality will be explored, along with how they can both complement one another through discussion of their similarities and differences. Using the definition of youth as referring to those of 12 to 25 years of age, this report will illustrate a more reflective exploration of why the process of youth participation is desirable and the systemic barriers that oppress young people to participate in the decision-making of their lives.
The term ‘Youth Participation’ is union process of sharing decisions where young people, as citizens, take part in, express views on, and have decision-making power about issues that affect them.
In order to coherently understand the importance of youth participation, it is imperative to acknowledge the universal tendency for society to view young people as a deficit and the social injustice where equality of rights does not exist for young people. Forms of discrimination such as ageism is a representation of the social construction on young people and power struggle for equal citizenship. Various participation models have been proposed to assist those who want to involve young people in participation and features centrally for youth practitioners in the formation of policies – Youth Workers. Although there is a wide portion of literature researched, there is no universal theory of young people’s participations. Therefore, the Models of Participation is primarily a structure to liberate oppressed young people to accessing their utmost rights to The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC).
The YingYang Model of Youth Participation places emphasis on eight key concepts reflecting the importance of young people as an asset to society. The development of the model was derived from existing frameworks which are seen in the principles and is based on the integration of two complementary approaches: a human rights-based approach where the model identifies the violations of young people’s rights and the human development approach, which recognises the uniqueness of every individual and argues the concept of universal human rights is not applicable in a world where diversity prevails. This form of model may be described as an informal approach as it is not executed through formal policy, but rather, it addresses the broader determinants of youth participation and is inclusive of young people as part of decision making process in the adult-dominated system we live in. Levels of participation and empowerment, being among the eight values within the model, places emphasis on the ideology that young people “must feel for themselves to be able to effect change”. The model elaborates the concept of empowerment needs to acknowledge that only young people can empower themselves, even if adults decide to ‘share’ some of their power with young people, this is not real empowerment because power given in this way can just as easily be taken away. Therefore, there are clear levels of participation that must be considered to allow young people to successfully maintain their dependency, otherwise, participation has not sufficiently obtained its objective.
Although all people including young people have the same right to participate, there are still many forms of discrimination and forms of exclusion that prevent opportunities to participate.
The Active Participation Framework was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and was designed as a practical guide for the use by government officials to inform, consult and engage citizens in policy making. The framework seeks to clarify the key words and the measure to ensure access to information, opportunities for consultation and public participation in policy making in their respective countries are available. Using information, consultation and active participation allows officials in leadership positions to strengthen their relations with citizens based on their principle of partnership.
However, the combination of both models creates a balance in their objectives as they both rely intensely on the structure of policy making and importance of reciprocating their role in order to achieve equity. The YingYang Model challenges the notion of participation and allows all perspectives to be valued; acting as a checklist instrument to those in the profession of youth advocacy – Youth Workers. This strength can complement The Active Participation Model’s weakness in inclusiveness. In contrast, The Active Participation Model provides definitions which creates structure for other frameworks, like the YingYang Model, to create a common understanding of what is acceptable and what really is ‘consultation’
Collectively, both structures are tools which aim to advance youth participation and engagement for the betterment of the individuals and on a community level.
In essence, youth participation is a union process which allows young people to be the protagonist in their own development. Although there a varied ideologies researched, there are no definitive steps to initiate youth participation and engagement. Among the many theories explored, The Active Participation Model and the YingYang Model have been formulated as a powerful agent for young people’s development. Although their similarities align in understanding the importance of citizenship, they also differ in ways that the YingYang Model works in coordination with the authorities, whereas The Active Participation Model sees into the lens of the government and offer solutions from their end. However, both models allow young people to be a part of the influential process in the decisions that affect their lives. Ultimately, the degree to which young people should have a voice in anything has been strongly divergent but participation is the fundamental right of citizenship, therefore, young people should have those rights.
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