1st Edition

Young People in the Global South Voice, Agency and Citizenship

    442 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    442 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Young People in the Global South: Voice, Agency and Citizenship explores the spatial, relational, affective and material dimensions of adolescents’ and young people’s civic engagement and political participation in lower- and middle-income contexts. This textbook questions how the ‘everyday politics’ of exercising voice and agency is experienced at different scales, from the interpersonal to the global.

    It explores how structural inequalities and marginalisation, as well as social norms and attitudes, shape how voice, agency and participation are expressed by diverse young people in particular contexts with unique histories. Contributing authors focus on the experiences of young people who are marginalised based on age, gender, sexuality, disability, citizenship status and geographical location. Together they show how ageing through adolescence enables or constrains agency and voice. Textbook features include case studies on Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as reflective accounts authored by adolescents and young people themselves, and discussion questions.

    Filling a key gap in the knowledge about the concerns and experiences of young people in contexts beyond the Global North, this textbook will be of interest to academics, students and practitioners in the fields of childhood and youth studies, international development, social movements, human geography, sociology and comparative politics.

    SECTION I Research methods to explore young people’s voice, agency and civic engagement

    Introduction: Adolescent and young people’s voice, agency and citizenship in the Global South

    Kate Pincock, Nicola Jones and Lorraine van Blerk

    Section overview: Research methods to explore young people’s voice, agency and civic engagement

    Kara Hunersen

    Measuring adolescent voice and agency: An overview of quantitative and mixed-methods approaches

    Eric Neumeister, Nicola Jones and Silvia Guglielmi

    Empowerment in the age of Covid-19: A mixed-methods study of voice and decision-making on four continents

    Kara Hunersen and Mengmeng Li

    Giving voice to children and adolescents in Chile: Lessons from the participatory research Mosaic approach

    Paulina Jara-Osorio

    Youth contribution: Changing perceptions, changing roles exploring self, peer and public perceptions and changing roles and responsibilities of street-connected peer researchers and advocates in Kolkata during the Covid-19 pandemic

    Kolkata Street Champions: Puja, Bedh, Priyanka, Parveen, Birju, Sushma, Manisha, Preity, Sahil, Asha, Muskaan, Sonu, Anita, Rishika, Disha, Ishika, Shama, Tanisha, Avinash, Divya, Sanjana, Shibani, Karuna, Suman, Durga, Swapna, Anju, Manju, Swati and Shalu

    Youth contribution: Our child-led research makes child activists’ voices stronger in Brazil

    Carlos Henrique Lemos

    Youth contribution: How we are working to reduce teenage pregnancy in our community in Sierra Leone

    Mesalie Gbenday and Salamatu Tajawai

    SECTION II Listening to young people: Negotiating gendered perspectives on voice and agency

    Youth contribution: ‘When a girl says something, I learn from her’

    ‘Sara’ with Sarah Al Heiwidi

    Section overview: Listening to young people: Negotiating gendered perspectives on voice and agency

    Su Lyn Corcoran, Ruth Edmonds and Tigist Grieve

    Exercising agency on the periphery: Brazilian children and young people’s understanding of agency and choice within contexts of inequality

    Patricio Cuevas-Parra

    ‘Children have the right to be controlled by their parents’: Children’s voice in rural Sierra Leone

    Elena Samonova

    Exploring the lived realities of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth in Bangladesh

    Farhana Alam and Sabina Faiz Rashid

    Youth contribution: When children and young people participate, it is possible to make a change

    Jason Katya Muhiwa

    Youth contribution: Reflections of a young feminist navigating the promise of sustainable development by world leaders

    Pooja Singh

    Youth contribution: Pressure around sex in exchange for necessities is a setback in the fight against HIV among adolescent girls living in fishing communities in Kenya’s Lake Victoria region

    Evelyn Odhiambo

    SECTION III Understanding young people’s citizenship: Marginalisation, agency and the political Imagination

    Youth contribution: ‘Although the camp has changed as compared to the old times, I don’t think it has changed enough’

    ‘Amal’ with Sarah Al Heiwidi

    Section overview: Understanding young people’s citizenship: marginalisation, agency and the political imagination

    Luisa Enria

    Street youth as human billboards – a paradox of performed street citizenship: Novel political participation by street youth in Ghana

    Janine Hunter, Lorraine van Blerk, Wayne Shand, and Richey O. Lamptey

    Informality, gender, and alternative citizenship: The lives and livelihoods of rural migrant youth in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Elizabeth Dessie

    Youth movements and political protest: Opportunities and limitations of Ethiopia’s Qeerroo movement in affecting transformative change

    Nicola Jones, Kate Pincock and Workneh Yadete

    Youth contribution: Negotiating everyday life in a Delhi slum as a Muslim girl

    Samiya Zarif

    SECTION IV Young people’s voice, agency and participation ‘beyond borders’

    Youth contribution: My revolution footprint in Zambia

    Tawen Musa

    Section overview: Young people’s voice, agency and participation ‘beyond borders’

    Kate Pincock and Roberta Dumitriu

    Patterning, enablers and barriers to adolescents’ participation in protracted crises: A case study of adolescents’ mobility and safe access to public spaces in the Gaza Strip

    Bassam Abu Hamad, Riyad Diab and Amal Abu Nemer

    Adolescents mobilising in real life and online: The Bangladesh context

    Pragyna Mahpara, Sahida Islam Khondaker and Taslima Aktar

    Youth contribution: Youth climate leaders: What are the major barriers facing young people in climate action and how can these be overcome?

    Michelle Chiperi Aivazova, James Mhina and Sarah McIvor

    Youth contribution: ‘Being part of the military wing gives you authority here in the camp’

    ‘Aous’ with Sally Youssef

    SECTION V Policies and programming for voice, agency and civic participation

    Youth contribution: ‘My mother does not allow me to go out of this camp’: Reflections on experiences as an internally displaced adolescent girl in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia


    Section overview: Policies and programming for voice, agency and civic participation

    Patricio Cuevas-Parra

    Supporting adolescent voice, agency and civic participation in the context of forced displacement: The role of the Makani/‘My Space’ programme one-stop centres in Jordan

    Nicola Jones, Joost Vintges and Sarah Al Heiwidi

    Negotiating meaningful dialogue: Scaffolding safe spaces for street-connected young people’s participation in Kenya

    Debapriya Bhattacharyya, Su Lyn Corcoran, Ruth Edmonds, Vicky Ferguson and Siân Wynne

    Youth contribution: Youth citizenship and advocacy: Perspectives and challenges facing Peruvian youth leaders

    Leyla, Maykon Jhony Quispe Quinto and Keiko Clara Campo Motta with Julia Smith-Brake, Roberto Naim Casquero Mayuntupa and Sherri-Ann Lyon

    Youth contribution: ‘We give our views but our suggestions are not implemented’: Experiences of school parliaments in Batu, Ethiopia


    Youth contribution: The Khuluma Mentor programme: Young people’s experiences of running a digital peer-led psychosocial support intervention in South Africa

    Desmond Tau, Given Monama, Lungile Tshabalala, Grant Masemola, Kelebogile Motlopye and Phoku Nunga with Malebo Ngobeni and Tebogo Monese

    Final reflections and next steps for policy, programming and research

    Kate Pincock, Nicola Jones and Lorraine van Blerk


    Kate Pincock is a Researcher on the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme at ODI and a Research Associate at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. Her research interests include critical theories of agency; age, gender and sexualities; participatory methodologies; and postcolonial work on displacement, borders and mobility. She is the author of The Global Governed (2020) and co-editor of Adolescents in Humanitarian Crisis: Gender, Displacement and Social Inequalities (2021).

    Nicola Jones is a Principal Research Fellow at ODI and Director of GAGE, the largest longitudinal research study in the Global South (2016–2016), following 20,000 adolescent girls and boys across the second decade of life. Her research focuses on gender, adolescence and childhood, social protection and gender norm change in developmental and conflict-affected contexts in sub-Saharan Africa, East and South Asia, and the Middle East. Nicola has published widely including two recent co-edited volumes with Routledge: Adolescents in Humanitarian Crisis: Gender, Displacement and Social Inequalities (2021) and Adolescent Girls and Empowerment: Towards Gender Justice (2018).

    Lorraine van Blerk, FAcSS, is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Dundee, UK, and an Honorary Professor at the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research focuses on childhood and youth, with a particular focus on participatory and co-produced research. Her research has examined issues of homelessness, refugee status and other aspects of marginalisation and exclusion for young people in urban and rural settings, most notably across Africa. She is co-editor/author of four books and has written in excess of 100 academic and policy-related publications. Lorraine co-led the Growing Up On The Streets longitudinal and qualitative research programme and leads subsequent affiliated projects.

    Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is the Founder and Chief Executive of the Rozaria Memorial Trust and former World YWCA General Secretary. She is a trained human rights lawyer with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation. She is also the current chair of CIVICUS and serves on the Advisory Committee for Girls Not Brides. She was appointed a member of the High Level Group on HIV Prevention and Sexual Health for Young People in Eastern and Southern Africa by the United Nations, following her service as a member of the UN Commission on Information and Accountability on Women and Children’s Health. In May 2014 she was named Goodwill Ambassador of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage.

    This book is an important contribution to documenting the vital role that young people in all their diversity play in pushing progress towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. They are not passively waiting for change to happen. They innovate, mobilize and advocate for a more equal, just, and sustainable world, but are too often excluded when decisions are made. I hope readers are left with a strong conviction to ensure their meaningful participation and put youth-led action at the forefront.

    Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth

    The voice and agency of adolescent girls is often overlooked in work on young people’s civic engagement and politics, where there has traditionally been more attention to young men and boys. This book addresses this gap by focusing explicitly on gender-related constraints and accelerators to young people’s full participation in civic and political life. The book includes a rich range of case studies and pieces by young researchers themselves –from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. We learn of how social norms specifically constrain girls’ mobility, learning – including use of technologies- and how these can be overcome. Importantly, this book presents practical policy and programme solutions to support girls to exert their leadership, voice and agency on issues that matter to them, including to tackle gender-based violence, refugee education rights and more. This book is relevant to policymakers, researchers and development practitioners alike; articulating the power and potential of girls and boys to influence change in their communities and in the world at large.  

    Lauren Rumble, Associate Director for Gender Equality, UNICEF

    While much is said about the importance of assuring that the voices and perspectives of young people are integrated into the work we professionals do on their behalf, the reality is more reflected in lip service than action. This volume by Jones and colleagues digs deeply into what youth engagement means for policies, programs, research and so much more. Here youth are neither tokens nor the subject of our work but are partners every step of the way. It operationalizes the slogan: “Nothing about us without us!”

    Robert Blum, Professor and Chair of the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, John Hopkins University

    Context is everything, and yet there are common predicaments, processes and insights that link and illuminate the lives of young people growing up in precarious environments. This important volume helps us work between the particular (in terms of local knowledge, meanings and tactics) and the global (in terms of policies, programmes and strategy). Drawing on interdisciplinary and embedded research, the collection centres the voices and agency of young people; proposing a new agenda for evidence and advocacy that takes seriously the significance of gender, age and participation. Unusually, the book draws on longitudinal insights, showing how change and maturity emerge in dynamic settings. Covering the time period before, during and after the Covid -19 pandemic and drawing case study material from Africa, Asia, MENA and Latin America the volume is up-to-date and conceptually nuanced while attending to the categories and demands of contemporary governance and investment agendas. A must-read for policy makers and practitioners concerned with young people in the global south and a rich resource for students and researchers for years to come.

    Rachel Thomson, Professor of Childhood & Youth Studies, University of Sussex

    This book is a superb resource that advances our knowledge of the experience and influence of young people in the global South. Each of the four sections delivers a useful literature-informed overview followed by rich examples of initiatives written by practitioners and, consistent with the book’s theme, by young people themselves.

    Nicola Ansell, Professor of Human Geography, Brunel University

    People working with and for adolescents realize that young people are talented, powerful, and full of potential. The delightful publication of Young People in the Global South: Voice, Agency and Citizenship is a brilliantly conceptualized work based on strong evidence and extended global experience of working with adolescents. The book echoes the recent and enlarging focus on the need to utilize the adolescents' power of change in civic engagement, especially among less privileged populations. It fits exactly with their slogan “Nothing for us, without us!”

    Mamdouh Wabha, Head of the Arab Coalition for Adolescent Health and Medicine

    This is an outstanding volume. Its novel approach and structure weaves discussion and case-studies together to create a book bursting with engaging ideas about citizenship, activism, agency, politics and participation. The editors' commitment to youth voice is clear through the fantastic chapter contributions from young people themselves. A wonderful text that centres young people's lives and animates debates on civic engagement for academic researchers and practitioners.

    Professor Sarah Mills, Professor of Human Geography, Loughborough University