Adolescents and youth
Unleashing the potential of Senegal’s youth
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Today’s generation of young people is larger than ever before. But far too many are not getting what they need to realize their full range of rights. Poverty and deprivation, gender inequality and other forms of discrimination intersect with climate change and economic upheaval to threaten adolescents’ well-being.
Senegal has a youthful population. The average age was 22 years. Senegal is one of the countries whose youth development index scores improved by at least 10% since 2010. The improvement was due to an increase in secondary school enrollment and/or literacy rates and the reduction in adolescent fertility and youth mortality rates.
Still, adolescents and youth, particularly girls, continue to face major constraints to fulfilling their potential. Girls have a lower rate of transition to secondary education due to gender- and school-based violence and discrimination, including early marriage and pregnancy. An estimated 14 per cent of girls under 15 have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and, in 2016, 31.5 per cent of women 20 to 24 years old were married by age 18. Adolescents, especially girls, have limited access to life-skills education, reproductive health services, proper menstrual hygiene or information about HIV prevention.
UNICEF’s work with adolescents and youth
UNICEF in Senegal identifies the fostering of young people’s participation as one of the key strands to accelerate progress and deliver results. UNICEF emphasizes that mechanisms need to be prioritized to include and support young people in identifying and implementing solutions, building the evidence base, monitoring and evaluation, as well as platforms such as digital and traditional media to support young people’s engagement.
Adolescents and youth as agents of change
With UNICEF support, adolescents and youth regularly participate in a series of civic engagement activities (youth empowerment, sensitization on birth registration, child marriage, schooling, environmental issues like access to potable water or waste management etc.) in different regions of Senegal. UNICEF supports the development of youth-led initiatives including on environmental issues, by establishing partnerships and coaching around the maturation of these local and youth-led initiatives with a stronger community support and its transformation into youth-led business initiatives. UNICEF also supports adolescents and youth in designing their own initiative to find local solutions to some of issues affecting them.
Adolescents & youth in Covid-19 response
Over the past two years, thousands of volunteers, including adolescents and young people, were mobilised to support COVID-19 prevention and response actions with UNICEF support. As volunteers were able to put in place solutions beyond the COVID-19 response, notably in the areas of environmental protection and nutrition, this remarkable level of participation underlines the potential of youth to drive and accelerate positive change at regional, departmental and community levels. To crystalize the strategy, UNICEF Senegal entered into formal partnerships with several youth-led and youth-focused NGOs.
Consultation with children and young people
UNICEF is collaborating with several youth organizations to organize consultation of adolescent and young people on different thematic that affect them and possibly on which they are ready to engage, to ensure children and youth have their say in shaping UNICEF and partners future programmes. It could not come at a more important time as children and youth are facing the psychological and practical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, having to adjust to a new reality for years to come. As it is their future, their opinions need to shine through in decisions that are taken by UNICEF and its partners.
UNICEF and these partners namely Conafe, Déclic, Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement, Social Change Factory, Cosydep Youth section and Mental Health for Senegal, but also Child Fund, Plan International, Save The Children and World Vision, and others to come, will count on adolescent and young people engagement and voluntarism to propose and implement their solutions in their communities or at country level.
Children and youth in climate action
Children and youth living in Senegal are at an extremely high risk of suffering from the impacts of climate change. They face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks and stresses. UNICEF conducted a series of consultation with young people and children in regions affected by climate-related shocks (coastal erosion, drought). Children and youth are fully-fledged citizens and rights-holders. It is of paramount importance to give children a voice and acknowledge they have a say in climate action. Addressing the climate crisis requires every part of society to act. Children and young people need to be given the space to lead and participate in all these actions as the most powerful agents for a positive change.
Tools and Platforms
U-Report Senegal is a social messaging tool and data collection system developed by UNICEF to improve citizen engagement, inform leaders, and foster positive change. The program sends SMS polls and alerts to its participants, collecting real-time responses, and subsequently publishes gathered data. Issues polled include health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, climate change and other youth-related topics. The program currently has 46,000 participants in Senegal. Join Now
Voice of Youth is jointly implemented by Social Change Factory (SCF) and UNICEF and it facilitates the transformation of adolescents and youth into socially-conscious, solution-oriented change-makers and amplify their ideas and actions through their active participation in media platforms. Read more
Salmaïtou Senegal aims to teach practical tech-related skills to 100 of the most vulnerable girls in and out of school. The program started in February 2021 and consists of bootcamps and mentoring through which the girls can acquire skills in digital technologies, innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Read more