Empowering Youth to Speak Out for Change

Children and youth are fully aware of the barriers they face in claiming their rights - but too often their views are ignored. War Child believes this needs to change - which is why we’re bringing young people together to speak out about the challenges they face. Find out more about our youth conference.

War Child will convene a Youth conference in Uganda in October this year which will bring together youth from several conflict-affected countries. The gathering will see young people speak out on the issues that affect their lives - and the things they believe need to change.


The event will focus on three key themes - the situation of urban youth; violence; and youth wellbeing. Participants from across the world will be able to share their experiences and develop their advocacy and debating skills. This will see them come together to ensure their voices are heard - and influence the decision-making processes that affect their lives. Their work will be shared with donors and Dutch members of Parliament, among others.

Participants will also be supported in discussing the emerging themes around livelihood support, urbanisation, violence and its impact on wellbeing. Potential attendees will be approached through existing bodies such as youth parliaments, councils and recreational groups. 

Significant challenges

The challenges facing youth growing up in the world’s cities are increasingly critical. Social scientists have outlined the threats posed to young people by increasing urbanisation. Robert Muggah’s work has shown that mortality rates among urban youth as a result of violence are rising - even though the rate of conflict-related deaths is actually falling. 

Muggah - one of the leading scientists on Urban Violence in South America - predicts that if we don’t solve the problems resulting from increased urbanisation - such as energy consumption, water shortages and violence - we will not survive to the end of the current century.

Tom Goodfellow, an expert in Urban Violence in Africa, uses World Health Organisation statistics to show that three times as many people die as a result of urban violence than so-called ‘traditional’ armed conflict. Critical factors contributing to the increase in the urban death rate include exclusion of people based on age, gender or stigma; politics; lack of employment opportunities; and access to land. Goodfellow believes urban violence represents a way for people to vent their frustration and protest against often corrupt and non-responsive authorities.

Creating effective change

The findings from the youth conference will be shared in international networks - helping to influence change. War Child will also draw on these findings to inform the design of our programmes - ensuring they remain relevant to the needs of young people.

A similar event held in Sri Lanka last year taught us that young people benefit from the mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. The children were able to share the videos they developed with members of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child.

War Child aims to support a generation of leaders who can ensure the voice of youth is incorporated into the international policy of the United Nations and at the local level. Their recommendations could serve to boost the wellbeing of the world’s conflict-affected youth - and bring about a better future for their societies.

More about our mission

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_muggah_the_biggest_risks_facing_cities_and_some_solutions#t-34692