Participation and Engagement
UNICEF in Serbia aims to draw more young people to U-Report, an innovative platform created to collect the opinions of young people and give them an opportunity to express their ideas
Youth participation means youth are involved in decision-making for their communities. Civic engagement is important for the development of civic values, social trust and strengthening of democratic values. UNICEF will invest in creating more demand for youth participation, including by the most vulnerable groups such as girls, Roma, and young persons with disabilities. We will develop long-term strategies to raise young people’s awareness of their right to participate in issues of their interest. These strategies will encourage them to participate and express their voices in local and national governance to influence public policy.
UNICEF in Serbia aims to draw more young people to U-Report, an innovative platform created to collect the opinions of young people and give them an opportunity to express their ideas.
Through the Online Volunteers Platform, UNICEF is creating and promoting opportunities for young people to volunteer in a meaningful, accessible and valued way enhances their participation in society, the development of skills for greater employability and quality of life, and further empowers them.
Programme Area Goals
Our goal is to provide young people with participation platforms and increased capacities to amplify their voices and be connected, actively engaged and empowered, and productively participate in their communities and society. We aim to:
- Increase youth participation by gathering evidence, developing youth participation standards and capacity building of professionals and youth workers.
- Increase adolescents and youth participation in decision-making to ensure that their voices are heard.
- Strengthen mechanisms to improve quality, accessibility and relevance of volunteer programmes to make volunteering available for everyone.
Understanding the importance of raising awareness activities, UNICEF aims to increase the number of young people who would become civically engaged, build their participation skills and values, and take an active role in their communities.
Our goals are that:
- By the end of 2025, 20,000 people are reached through U-Report and are able to share their opinion.
- By the end of 2025, 2,300 adolescents and youth have participated in or led civic engagement initiatives.
- The systems for adolescent and youth participation are strengthened.
Civic engagement is important for the development of civic values and social trust, and a key priority is supporting youth to set up their own agenda, promote it in their communities, and build confidence in their ability to influence society.
Youth participation is low is Serbia. According to the Survey of the Position and Needs of Young People in Serbia in 2020, less than 4 per cent of young people are engaged in a political party, and only 14 per cent volunteer or engage in a civil society organization or support online petitions. Only 21 per cent of youth are engaged in unpaid voluntary activities, which is two times lower that it was in 2015 (40 per cent).
Policies and programming need to be developed to create more engagement opportunities for youth and actively promote volunteerism. It is also important to continue promoting UNICEF-led and supported participation initiatives, such as the U-Report and the Online Volunteers platforms, as these simple and youth-friendly online tools have proved effective in engaging more young people in community life and encouraging them to make their voices heard.
UNICEF’s priority is to establish platforms that both enable online participation and are perceived as nationwide initiatives for offline engagement and volunteering opportunities. Together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and other partners, we work to support youth engagement and active citizenship.
We aim to advocate for changes to youth policies in Serbia towards participation of a greater number of young people. We will support the Government in analysing and improving the 2015–2025 National Youth Strategy and the Law on Volunteering.
UNICEF and partners launched the National Volunteer platform volonterinamrezi.rs, which facilitates connecting volunteering organizers with volunteers, helps expand the volunteer community at the national level, allows more efficient management of volunteers and enhances recognition of volunteer work.
We are working with partners to raise awareness of the importance of youth participation, and the U-Report platform provides space for the continued involvement of young people in community decision-making. It aims to connect and inform young people and assess their needs in their communities to improve or implement new programmes.
Our Youth Board actively provides meaningful input and has collaborated with the UNICEF Adolescent and Youth Development Programme in the situation analysis of the COVID-19 emergency, planning and design of different initiatives and projects, and evidence-based advocacy, thus promoting the participation of young people in consultation processes and campaigns for strategic priorities and public policies related to youth.