Unit 3.1 Youth Work Empowerment
This unit provides information and ideas about empowerment in youth work.
- Participants get information about concepts of empowerment
- They learn about a motivating example that can be applied to their own practice.
In youth work, the goal is to empower and enable young people to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to positively impact their own lives and the lives of other people, organizations, and communities. This is a process in which young people have an active role in shaping their lives.
1 content session
1 suggested video
What does it mean to empower youth?
Youth plays a very important part in the world we live today. They are the change and it is in our power to help them create a future where everyone will be comfortable and safe. Where everyone will find a place and no one will be rejected. When young people are ’empowered’, they have the critical awareness and the skills, but also the opportunities, to positively influence their own lives and the lives of other individuals, organisations and communities.
wYouth plays a very important part in the world we live today. They are the change and it is in our power to help them create a future where everyone will be comfortable and safe. Where everyone will find a place and no one will be rejected. When young people are ’empowered’, they have the critical awareness and the skills, but also the opportunities, to positively influence their own lives and the lives of other individuals, organisations and communities.
Thus youth participation is a process in which youth takes an active role in shaping their lives, defends their views in educational reforms, protects the future of the environment, stands at the origins of new ethics and other major issues. They operate in capitals, major cities, suburbs, small towns, rural areas, whether in industrial or developing countries.
In the modern world, there is a large number of factors that affect the formation of young people, and in particular their views.
First of all, technologies. Since the end of the 20th century, technologies began to develop rapidly, and most importantly, it has become firmly established in the life of modern youth. New technologies appear every year and they are much more convenient to use. It is not surprising that young people, being in the centre of these events, absorb these innovations like a sponge.
Other factors include unemployment, demographic, economic and social changes that occur day by day in modern society.
Unemployment was caused by different factors like financial crisis, skill mismatch, lack of access to capital, demographic problems and digital divide. Some youth participation programmes aim both at teaching certain skills for getting a job, and helping to find it.
On the other hand, many young entrepreneurs experience the lack of access to capital to start their businesses. To help solving this problem crowd-funding websites like Kiva.org  were created in order to help youth build up their own business. Person willing to help young entrepreneurs can look up for the suitable businesses and a young person behind it to make a final decision in funding them. According to the website the repayment is 96%.
Another solution is making the Internet access available all over the world. The key to this is to boost infrastructure development in order to stop the digital divide in low-income countries.
While talking about social changes we want to emphasize several major issues as an example that happened to the world starting from the 20th century, since they made a huge impact on our nowadays life. We should outline social movements in civil rights, women’s rights, and LBGTQ rights. They became the base for the new social model of behaviour – new ethics.
According to the new ethic it is inappropriate to show racist, homophobic or toxic behaviour. It is encouraged to take care of your own emotions, study and have a better understanding of one’s self. If back in the days going to a psychologist was considered a waste of time and money, nowadays young people consider taking care of their mental health as important as taking care of their body.
A motivating example:
Finding unexpected common ground requires youth work empowerment that takes diversity into account and is the method and goal of all participatory youth and education work.
For building youth empowerment, you need to discover unexpected commonalities, shared experiences, desires and interests of young people Instead of differences and apparent opposites.
 Checkoway, Barry N., and Lorraine M. Gutierrez. “Youth participation and community change: An introduction.” Journal of community practice 14.1-2 (2006): 1-9.
 Raj.M, Casimir. (2009). Youth Empowerment through Participation.
 Loans that change lives/ Kiva [https://www.kiva.org/] [Date 2.03.2021]
You can watch the short Danish video “All that we share” (3 min), which caused a kind of “internet hype”. It has already been shared by more than 8,3 million people. Actually, it was only supposed to be a self-promotion for a Danish TV station … But it is a revealing example of how great the need is in all parts of the population (and probably not only in Denmark) to look for what connects people and not what divides them.
Video in English