Youth as Agents of Positive Change
Policy Recommendations for Advancing Youth Empowerment and Stability
In many of the places Mercy Corps works, youth represent more than half the population. From Pakistan and Afghanistan to Somalia and Central African Republic, these youth are coming of age in some of the world’s toughest places – where life is in a constant state of disruption. Within these disruptive contexts, the rules of the game are changing, new groups are entering the political arena, economic opportunities are shifting and norms are being redefined. It is within these dynamic and shifting environments that youth can choose peaceful or destructive paths. Mercy Corps thus believes it is critical to understand the drivers and incentives shaping youth behavior in these contexts.
To this end, Mercy Corps conducted multiple studies to better understand what makes youth prone to engage in or support political violence, and what policies and programs can best mitigate this risk. The results of our research challenge several core assumptions that underlie many youth programs in fragile and conflict-affected states, and have important implications for future youth programming and policies.