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International Youth Day 2022: Creating a world for all ages

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12 August 2022 Tags: MIYP, Youth participation

Rutgers wants a world where young people, in all their diversity, have the right to actively participate in their own lives and enjoy their sexuality. With our partners, we have a unique focus on meaningful and inclusive youth participation (MIYP), placing it at the very heart of our research, advocacy and programme work.

Our programmes focus on young people in all their diversity. Their participation is a right and we know it has a proven positive impact on young people, adults, organisations and programmes.

Read more on Rutgers’ MIYP here 

Meet our colleague Robin Smeets. Robin started working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as a volunteer for a youth-led advocacy organization in the Netherlands.
Nowadays, as a programme officer for our international programmes, she is a passionate champion for MIYP and intergenerational dialogues. 

My Name is Robin. As a young volunteer I stepped into the world of SRHR. Soon I found myself advocating for meaningful youth participation. At that time, among our peers, meaningful youth participation was considered a topic for young people, and young people only. We had to be at the forefront, and it was us that could make that happen.

I enjoyed engaging with young people from all over the world. Talking about our endless potential, our needs and desires and our talent.

We were eager to define which policies, laws, norms and values needed to be changed. Changes that would meaningful include us in decision making regarding harmful practices, sexual and gender-based violence and unintended pregnancies.  

At some point I realized, having this conversation with young people only was not going to lead to the change we so passionately aimed for. Instead, to meaningfully engage in decision making regarding our sexual health and rights, we needed to have a seat at the table with those in power. And those are usually not the young.

Each voice matters

In my work as programme officer, I once again have the opportunity to engage in intergenerational conversations. Conversations in which all participants are valued equally and each voice matters.

We need to continuously exchange, to learn from each other, and we need to share power equally. 

It means that we, people in the global partnerships, involve those who we claim to represent. Young people in all their diversity we must therefore allow to take up space, to claim power and to exercise that power in decision making. Even if that means some people need to share or give up their space. Because it is the only way we can transform MIYP from a desired concept to a standard we all work from.  

So, including MIYP in our mission statements and in our plans, is not sufficient. We need to act, change, and make space.  

Happy International Youth Day 2022! 

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