Supporting youth-inclusive and youth-responsive assessments and analysis to inform programming can ensure that the youth perspective informs programming and is sufficiently integrated into analyses of the legal, political, human rights and institutional context. Moreover, such assessments may enable the inclusion of youth in stakeholders’ consultations and meetings.
The application of a youth lens to analysis can inform programmes, policies and activities by including young people’s perspectives and lived experiences. It can bring insights into the specific situation of the diversity of young people and how age interlinks with election participation, conflict dynamics and opportunities for peace. As the ‘Youth, Peace and Security Programming Handbook’ notes, youth-inclusive and youth-sensitive conflict analysis is a critical entry point for making strategic planning and programme design responsive to the needs, aspirations and perspectives of young people, particularly during an electoral process. In addition, it can strengthen the operational readiness and capacity of electoral practitioners to implement activities. Yet, many analyses overlook youth agency, or young people remain invisible in their respective findings. The process of developing an analysis or conducting an assessment is in itself an opportunity to facilitate dialogue between youth, decision-makers, development partners and other stakeholders.
“Be empathetic with the realities that are lived in the different communities. Taking into account the particularity of the contexts and the population that lives in each community.” Young respondent, SELECT youth survey, July 2022.
An analysis or assessment may focus on youth or include a youth-lens, for example a conflict analysis or information landscape analysis (see programmatic option xxx). It can, however, also serve the main objective of gathering young people’s views to inform a specific electoral-related activity, or an electoral or governance programme overall.
A variety of approaches can be applied to gather young people’s views such as surveys, text messages, in-person workshops and meetings, gamified questionnaires and online consultations. It may further build on existing information sources including those produced by civil society and young people.
The availability of disaggregated data for age, gender and social factors can serve to support conducting a youth-inclusive and youth-responsive analysis by bringing an evidence-driven approach to analysis. Engaging young people in the validation of analysis and programme design can situate the findings in relation to young people’s experience.
A youth-inclusive and youth-responsive assessment or analysis may look into social and economic challenges and opportunities, conflict dynamics and peace opportunities (to be) created by youth, youth agency, voice and participation as well as map the diversity of youth, from active and organized youth to the most marginalized, ‘invisible’ youth. Power dynamics may further be mapped, including through a stakeholder mapping specifically looking into how young people relate to other electoral stakeholders and what types of engagement exist and/or have proven successful. How youth organize themselves, and the types of structures used around the electoral period and beyond, may be another important factor to incorporate into the assessment.
The following types of questions may be considered when collecting and analyzing data for a youth-sensitive and youth-responsive assessment or analysis for elections programming purposes. The questions should also holistically analyze the context in which youth are living, including the social, cultural, economic, historical and political factors in the society. More suggestions can be found in the youth, peace and security programming handbook [UN and Folke Bernadotte Academy (2021). Youth, peace and security: A programming handbook, Table 3, pp. 36–37]:
The role of youth in the electoral process
The role of youth in decision-making
The impact of social norms and power structures on youth participation
The eight intersectionality enablers outlined in the intersectionality resource guide and toolkit (UN Women and UNPRPD, 2021) can bring an intersectional lens to your assessment. The enablers serve to stimulate critical reflection as they are meant to facilitate analysis and deeper understanding of the context in which one operates, thereby contributing to the design of inclusive initiatives and programmes. The enablers have been adapted to be youth and elections specific.
Both national electoral stakeholders and international partners can carry out youth-inclusive and youth-sensitive assessment and analysis. There is also an opportunity to strengthen youth participation by having youth lead or co-lead the analysis process.
This activity can enable a context-specific approach to electoral-related programming by bringing to the fore information on the situation of youth according to a range of stakeholders and, most importantly, provide insights into the perspectives of a diversity of young people.
As youth is not a homogeneous group, representativity of young people and their organizations is a key consideration for programmes in order to facilitate the participation of a diversity of young people. Furthermore, conflict-sensitive approaches are critical to doing no harm and avoiding exacerbating inequalities and tensions.
The experience of violence and discrimination is likely to be different for young women, young men and youth from sexual and gender minorities [Simpson (2018). The Missing Peace: Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. UNFPA/PBSO]. A focus on intersectionality can increase the knowledge of how different social identities impact access to political processes [IFES (2020). Intersectionality Assessment of Political and Electoral Participation in Ukraine], thereby providing insights to foster inclusive and participatory electoral processes. For instance, during the electoral process, LGBTQI+ persons are often more prone to experience gender-based violence in the forms of hate speech, physical attacks and harassment [ACE—The electoral knowledge network. Accessed 12 September 2022: https://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/ge/ge8/default], and many countries lack monitoring and reporting systems regarding homophobic and transphobic hate crimes [United Nations for LGBT Equality: Fact Sheet. Homophobic and transphobic violence].
The situation of young people evolves, opportunities and challenges arise at different times throughout the electoral cycle and the nature of conflict changes. Therefore, it is critical that programmes on the prevention of electoral-related violence rely on assessments and analysis that are regularly updated. The process of developing a conflict analysis can in itself contribute to dialogue and enhancing understanding between stakeholders.
There is limited availability of age- and gender-disaggregated data, which limits insights into the participation of a diversity of young people. Often analyses only include references to young people as perpetrators or victims of violence, missing insights on youth leadership and agency for peace. It may be relevant to consider strengthening the capacity of practitioners and public officials to conduct youth-inclusive and youth-sensitive analysis. A challenge may be linked to the effective engagement of a diversity of youth and to ensuring representation beyond well-organized youth, often concentrated in urban areas.
Developed by the United Nations with the generous support of the Folke Bernadotte Academy – the Swedish Agency for Peace, Security and Development – the handbook seeks to contribute to the operational readiness and capacity of practitioners to implement the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda.
The Good Practice Note on Conflict Sensitivity, Peacebuilding, and Sustaining Peace provides practical guidance and concrete tools for UN entities to integrate conflict sensitivity into programming – with a view to contribute to building and sustaining peace.
UN electoral assistance is provided to Member States at their request or based on mandates from the UN Security Council or General Assembly only. The UN system-wide focal point for electoral assistance matters, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, decides on the parameters of such assistance, based on needs assessments led by the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). Implementation is guided by UN electoral policies set by the Focal Point, in consultation with UN entities, including UNDP.
The Intersectionality Assessment of Political and Electoral Participation in Ukraine seeks to make conversations about electoral and political rights more deliberately inclusive of all Ukrainians. It provides targeted recommendations for decision-makers at all levels of government, national CSOs and international organizations. The assessment is available in English and Ukrainian.
‘Shared Futures’ is a youth peace perception study for the Western Balkans, which was created through a youth-inclusive and participatory research process, and covering the voices of over 5,400 young women and men in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. A youth sounding board guided the process, and the research was conducted by UNDP in collaboration with UNFPA and Regional Youth Cooperation Office.