How the humanitarian sector should engage young people: a call to action

By H.D. Wright

Since the creation of the United Nations Special Envoy on Youth in 2013, aid professionals have asked themselves how to engage young people. The Education Cannot Wait youth constituency is calling on all humanitarian organizations to embrace the constituency-style format for youth inclusion.

While individual youth activists have much to offer, and advisory boards even more to share, the power of representative democracy is limitless. Democracy brings people together, juxtaposes perspectives that would not otherwise exist alongside each other, creating a mixture potent enough for sustainable change, and a structure that ensures that change is equitable.

All stakeholders must be included: refugees, the internally displaced—both girls and boys—their voices elevated by the unifying force of democracy.

H.D. Wright is Youth Representative at Education Cannot Wait, the United Nations Fund for Education in Emergencies. A 19-year old human rights activist, he is the first young person democratically elected to the governing body of a global humanitarian fund.

The Education Cannot Wait Youth Constituency is the first youth constituency in the humanitarian sector and the only youth group to democratically influence high-level humanitarian programs and policy from with the governing body of a global humanitarian fund.