UNICEF Guidance Note: Adolescent participation in UNICEF monitoring and evaluation

The 1.2 billion adolescents in the world today are a crucial resource and drivers of innovative change leading us towards a more equal and sustainable world.

A girl child raises her hands to ask her teacher's question in a school for disadvantaged children at the LEC of Ali-Sabbieh in Djibouti.


Learn more about the UNICEF Guidance Note: Adolescent Participation in UNICEF Monitoring & Evaluation.

Adolescents – defined by the United Nations as those between the ages of 10 and 19 – number 1.2 billion in the world today, making up 16 per cent of the world’s population. More than half of all adolescents globally live in Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, every fourth person is an adolescent. As children up to the age of 18, most adolescents are protected under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

According to the Convention, adolescents have the right to participate in and influence decision-making processes that may be relevant to their lives and their communities. Article 12 provides:

“States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

While there has been considerable progress in enhancing adolescent participation, it remains limited in monitoring and evaluation (M&E). Yet the benefits of adolescent participation in monitoring and evaluation (APM&E) are widely recognized:

  • Adolescent participation can help M&E efforts gain better, more authentic data on issues relevant to young people, for enhanced decision-making. It can thus bolster the credibility of evidence, and of decisions made based on that evidence.
  • Adolescent participation can foster empowerment, both through the development of specific M&E skills (“evaluative thinking”) and through involvement in a meaningful process with other adolescents and with adults.
  • Adolescents are treated with dignity and can forge intergenerational partnerships that may energize collective change based on evidence.


In practice, some staff in UNICEF and beyond may have limited experience regarding the steps and resources needed to meaningfully engage with adolescents in M&E activities. Others may worry that participation might be exploitative, unsafe or unethical. It is thus the how of participation in M&E that is a key challenge.

This guidance note was created in response to that challenge, to assist UNICEF staff determine what form of APM&E can best add value; how adolescents can be meaningfully, safely and ethically involved in different contexts; what practical issues should be considered when designing and implementing participatory M&E activities; and what tools and resources can be used to support such a process. The guidance note is interactive, allowing users to access supporting tools and tip-sheets or navigate within the document easily. It is intended to be a practical resource for UNICEF staff at all levels of the organization but may also be used by UNICEF partners.

This guidance note is the result of a collaborative effort between the Evaluation Office and the Adolescent Development and Participation Section in Programme Division. It was developed with the inputs from colleagues across sectors in Country and Regional Offices as well as Headquarters. We thank all for their constructive and thoughtful contributions.

We look forward to hearing feedback and comments as we begin to use the guidance and progressively move towards engaging adolescents more fully in M&E activities.


Related content: Adolescent development and participation.

Contact us: evalhelp@unicef.org.

ADAP Cover - UNICEF/UN0199391/Noorani