Category Archives: youth


Launch of the Wikiprogress Data Viz Contest “Visualizing Well-being” and Report on the Youth Well-being Consultation

From 17 June – 24 August, Wikiprogress will be running a Data Visualization Contest, “Visualizing Well-being” with the chance to win a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico to attend the 5th OECD World Forum. The Summary Report of the Wikiprogress Youth Well-being Consultation is also now available.

Wikiprogress Data Viz Contest

Data Visualization Contest

There are a couple of big announcements to make on Wikiprogress this week.  First of all, we are running a Data Visualization Contest over the summer called “Visualizing Well-being”, with the prize for three winners of a paid trip to Mexico in October this year to attend the 5th OECD World Forum.

The aim of the contest is to encourage participants to use well-being measurement in innovative ways to a) show how data on well-being give a more meaningful picture of the progress of societies than more traditional growth-oriented approaches, and b) to use their creativity to communicate key ideas about well-being to a broad audience.
Contest entrants are asked to create an infographic or data visualisation that addresses one or more of the following questions:
  • How do well-being levels vary between countries, or within countries?
  • How do well-being levels vary for different population groups (e.g. for young people, the elderly, by gender, etc.)?
  • Why is it important to look beyond purely economic indicators (such as GDP) for a better picture of people’s current or future well-being?
  • How can the multi-dimensionality of well-being be effectively communicated to the general public?

Entries will be welcomed in two categories:
1.    Interactive visualisations
2.    Static infographics and visualisations
Entrants are free to use any publicly available data (either official or non-official statistics) to create their entry. Entrants can choose their own definition of well-being and select their data accordingly from publicly available data sources. They are also free to use existing well-being indices and dashboards for inspiration, as long as they use the existing data to create their own original visualisation.

The competition is open to all individuals, both amateurs and professionals. We particularly want to encourage the participation of young people and at least one of the prizes will be reserved for under 26-year olds. 
To find out more, visit the contest website here.
We look forward to seeing your entries!
If you manage a data resource that could be useful to include on the contest website, or on our Wikiprogress Data Portal, please let us know at

Wikiprogress Online Consultation on Youth Well-being: Summary Report

The first Wikiprogress Online Consultation was a big success and we thank all of you who took part. The consultation had around 300 registered participants and over 500 comments.
A summary report was produced, summarising some of the key points made in the consultation, and can be downloaded here.
The consultation findings and aspects of Youth Well-being more generally were discussed at a special session at the OECD Forum in Paris on 2 June.  Marianna Georgallis, Policy and Advocacy Officer from the European Youth Forum (one of the consultation partners) outlined some of the main issues and led the discussion.  The session, titled “What Does Youth Well-Being Really Mean?” was attended by around 50 people from the Forum, with many youth participants, and there was a lively discussion around the questions raised by the consultation.
Some of the main takeaways from the consultation and the session included:
Studying youth well-being is important because a half of the world’s population is under 30 years old.
  • Youth well-being matters not only for young individuals themselves, but also for their families, communities and countries: countries that are more youth-inclusive tend to be more prosperous, while those that exclude youth tend to have higher crime and more social instability.
  • Defining “youth’ is not straightforward as youth is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, and from dependence to independence. For some youth means under 24 years, for others under 35. While youth age bands are somewhat arbitrary, there is nonetheless a need for greater precision when talking about youth and their needs: the needs of under-10 year olds are not the same as a 25-year old, for example.
  •  Parents and guardians play a crucial role in youth well-being, but it is important that role is supportive rather than coercive.
  • Youth participation in policy is important, and social media is a good ‘space’ for this. Many young people feel that adults don’t take them seriously. However, examples such as Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign as well as youth councils and university groups show that youth are willing to participate.  As noted previously, social media can harness this willingness if older generations and governments choose to listen.
  • Young people’s rights need to be strengthened as regards a labour market which depends heavily on the labour market: remuneration and opportunities for learning need to be improved and prioritised.
To read more on the consultation, download the report here

We would also like to thank our Consultation Partners for their input and support:


Balancing youth with social and emotional skills

Social and emotional skills play an essential role during all stages of life.  Along with cognitive and learning abilities, it is equally important that our youth develop social and emotional skills in order to balance and ground their personalities and strengthen their characters. This blog post on a new OECD publication,  “Skills for Social Progress“,  was written by Lynda Hawe of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills, as part of our focus on youth well-being during the Wikiprogress online consultation on Youth Well-being.
As we know from personal experiences, when we feel a deep sense of well-being we are far better able to absorb new information, take risks and be more responsible for our lives.  Now don’t we want that for all youth? 
But growing-up can often be quite a challenging period.  Ensuring that youth have a wide variety of skills to help them cope with some of life’s challenges may not always occur naturally.  Sometimes they will need help in building social and emotional skills – which are the kind of skills involved in achieving goals, working with others and managing emotions. 
Social and emotional skills play an essential role during all stages of life.  Fundamentally, along with cognitive and learning abilities, it is equally important that our youth develop social and emotional skills in order to balance and ground their personalities and strengthen their characters.  Some examples are:  Perseverance, which is the ability to keep going when things get tough and rough (like when the sports teacher demands that you to run another 10 laps of the pitch and you already feel exhausted).  Caring, which is the capacity to be kind to others and to be able to show and feel empathy (when you support an upset friend by listening and comforting them, irrespective of other priorities or personal time constraints).   Self-esteem,which means being able to feel good and being proud of your personal achievements, and comfortable with your physical appearances (regardless of any unpleasant comments from peers).
Luckily, some of these skills are flexible and adjustable when growing-up. This allows opportunities for policy makers, teacher and parents to provide the right kind of learning environments, in order to support and nurture them. The book Skills for Social Progress: The power of Social and Emotional Skills addresses the importance of these types of skills to enhance and balance lives.  It confirms international research studies that validate the need for a steady set of cognitive, social and emotional skill in order to succeed well in life.    In the past, we often thought that these types of skills couldn’t be successfully quantified.  In contrast, this report demonstrates that they can be measured meaningfully, within cultural and linguistic boundaries.  Additionally, the OECD will develop more measures and design an international comparative framework, in order to better grasp youth’s current and future needs for social and emotional skills.  Consequently, this report supplements the reflection on how future policies could best encourage and nurture the development of social and emotional skills, of course, working  closely with parents and teachers.
Not surprisingly, we need a wide range of diverse skills to contribute to the economy, support better social outcomes and build more unified and tolerant societies.  Cognitive abilities such as literacy and problem-solving remain crucial. Nonetheless, youth with strong social and emotional foundation skills thrive better in a highly dynamic labour market and rapidly changing world.  Investing in these skills will be central to addressing numerous socio-economic challenges, and for ensuring prosperous, healthy, engaged, responsible and happy youth.
More information
Centre for Educational Research and Innovation CERI
Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies PIAACwebsite
Related blogs

How to help the world’s youth

This post is by Nicole Goldin, director for Youth, Prosperity, and Security Initiative with the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and director of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index project in partnership with the International Youth Foundation. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on “Youth well-being: measuring what matters!“. 

Brimming with talent and ideas, today’s youth – the largest and most connected generation in human history – are creating a new global reality, and charting an unprecedented course for themselves and their communities. They are defending democracy, promoting peace,  and with an enterprising spirit, desperately wanting  the opportunity to work hard, build a sustainable livelihood and live up to their potential.  Today’s young people are an inspired generation, poised to drive global prosperity and security not only for themselves and their families today, but their communities and nations for generations to come.
But we know demography is not destiny.  Their fate may be challenged.  The promise in youth is often overshadowed – and in some cases undermined – by absent or ineffective policies, weak systems, poor infrastructure, unsatisfactory education and training, or inadequate investments and avenues of participation that limit the opportunities youth deserve and the world demands.
Fundamentally, however, young people’s needs and aspirations have too often gone largely unnoticed or unheard.  Why? One reason is that we simply don’t have a strong enough understanding of how they are doing or feeling.
To help shed light on how young people are faring around the world, and in turn increase youth-centered policy dialogue and investments, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), with principal support form Hilton Worldwide, have today launched the inaugural Global Youth Wellbeing Index in hopes of facilitating thought and action by, with, and in the interests of today’s youth.
The index measures youth wellbeing based on 40 indicators comprising six interconnected domains in 30 countries, covering 70 percent of the world’s young people. And there were some striking lessons [findings?]:
– A large majority of the world’s young people are experiencing lower levels of wellbeing – 85 percent of the youth represented in our Index live in countries with below average scores overall.
– Even where young people are doing relatively well, they still face specific challenges and limitations. Spanish youth, for example, face economic exclusion, while Saudi young people grapple with safety and security.
– Though young people may not be thriving overall, they display success in certain areas. Colombian and Ugandan youth, for example, top the ranks in terms of citizen participation.
– Across countries, average scores indicate young people faring best in health, weakest in economic opportunity, and with the most variance in information and communications technology.
There are roughly 1.8 billion young people on the planet, living for the most part in emerging and developing economies and fragile states.  Yet these global youth are not a monolithic group, and face cultural, geographic, economic, and political constraints and opportunities.
While we anticipate young people, policy makers, donors and investors will largely respond within their immediate communities and countries, we hope this index will also help stimulate discussion about the global economic, social and political agenda (including the Post 2015 development framework) for young people, allowing for recommendations that can be acted upon both globally and locally – anywhere and everywhere.
So where should action start? The index also highlights the need to elevate and better connect and coordinate policies and investments concerning young people, and for closer attention to youth satisfaction and aspirations, increasing youth participation and elevating youth voices by highlighting the opinions and outlook of young people themselves.
Of course, providing sufficient opportunities, addressing needs, meeting aspirations and supporting success among millions of youth is a real challenge – especially for still cash-strapped governments still trying to steer their economies back toward sustainable growth. But the potential payoff is huge – not least economically.  Now is the time to invest in strategic policies, partnerships and programs that engage and equip youth to be productive and realize their ambitions.
If this transformative generation can be given the tools it needs to thrive, then we will all be the better off for it.
Nicole Goldin
Twitter @nicolegoldin and @csis
This blog was first posted on CNN, here
Join the discussion on “Youth well-being: measuring what matters!“, click here. 

The Well-being of Youth around the Globe

The blog, by Wikichild co-ordinator Melinda Deleuze, is about the new Global Youth Wellbeing Index which measures how youth are doing under 6 domains in 30 countries with hopes of ultimately improving the outcomes for young people around the world. This post is a part of the Wikiprogress Series on Child Well-being.
This week, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) launched their “Global Youth Wellbeing Index“, with support from Hilton Worldwide. This Index was designed to promote attention to youth issues, to encourage dialogue about the issues, and to invest in young people, given that they are the catalysts for development, prosperity and security. The Index is intended for youth themselves, policymakers, donors and investors, and implementers.
The report on the 2014 results explains some of the situational landscapes in which youth today are living, both negative (i.a. unemployment; poverty; gender inequality) and positive (i.a. education returns; HIV declines; technological know-how). In order to create a clearer picture of what is happening with nearly 70% of the youth (aged 10-24) around the world, the Index uses 40 indicators and provides results for 30 countries.

These indicators are divided into 6 domains (citizen participation; economic opportunity; education; health; information and communications technology; safety and security), with 5-9 indicators per domain. Also, to provide a piece of subjective well-being among youth, the Index integrates 1-2 subjective youth outlook and satisfaction indicators (e.g. perceived stress levels among youth) into each domain.

The main findings highlighted in the report are:
  • A large majority of the world’s youth are experiencing lower levels of well-being (15% experience high or upper-middle well-being, 85% experience lower-middle or low well-being.)
  • Even where young people are doing relatively well, they still face specific challenges and limitations
  • Even where youth may not be thriving, they display success in certain areas
  • How young people feel about their own wellbeing does not always align with what the objective data suggests
  • Across countries, domain average scores indicate youth faring strongest in health and weakest in economic opportunity 
  • Overall, youth well-being trends correlate more strongly with countries’ income levels than with their regions. Young people in wealthier countries tend to have higher overall well-being (see below).  
Global Youth Wellbeing Index Rankings by World Bank Income Classification

The report provides recommendations and next steps:
  • Advance youth voices and participation 
  • Promote deeper-dive and targeted research and analysis 
  • Consider integrated policies and programs
  • Advance the body of age-disaggregated and youth survey data
There are limitations to the Index, such as incomplete, inconsistent and uncoordinated data. The picture of youth also too broad, as the data is not disaggregated by gender, region, rural/urban, disability, religion, socio-economic status, etc.. However, the authors believe that by identifying the relevant data gaps, the Index can also assist the post-2015 development agenda.
The first steps can be difficult, but luckily those involved are aware of the challenges ahead and are willing to take this Index deeper and farther in the coming years. I look forward to seeing what the Global Youth Wellbeing Index will teach us in the coming years.  

Wikichild Co-ordinator 

See Also

The Good Childhood Index
The Child and Youth Well-being Index
UNICEF Child-Wellbeing measure
Child Development Index
Early Development Index
Holistic Early Childhood Development Index

“Yes, Malala, we’re listening” – youth participation

This blog, written by Wikichild co-ordinator Melinda George, is part of the Wikiprogress Series on child well-being. It focuses on three necessary steps to increase youth participation: listening, involvement in decision-making and involvement in the implementation.

Have you ever witnessed a child tugging on his or her parent’s clothes, soliciting a moment of attention? How long does it take for this primary caregiver to acknowledge the child’s presence? And then how much longer until this person, responsible for the child’s well-being, responds “yes, dear, I’m listening”, if ever? 

If our objective is to improve the lives and well-being of children, then we need to acknowledge their presence and take the necessary steps to include them in our efforts.
Listening to the youth is the first step in increasing youth participation.
Hear part of Malala Yousafzai’s speech to the General Assembly:
All children have a voice, and we should do more to seek it out. Last week’s youth takeover at the UN General Assembly on “Malala Day” represents more than just a girl’s stand for education. Young people have been advocating for more rights and better treatment for centuries. The difference is that now we hear them. We are listening to what they have to say and are praising their efforts at an international level, at least those who speak loudly enough. We need to expand our audible range to go farther and deeper.
Youth involvement in the policy-making process is the second step.
We have been saying for years that youth involvement is an important factor in generating sustainable progress. Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan of action on sustainable development for the 21st century [i], states that “youth comprise nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population. The involvement of today’s youth in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes is critical to the long-term success of Agenda 21”[ii]. It also states that beyond their intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilise support, children and young people bring unique perspectives which need to be taken into account. This report was written over 20 years ago.
This month, Wikichild hosted an online discussion entitled How should child well-being be measured in view of future development frameworks? Several participants mentioned the need to involve young people when deciding how to measure well-being and to include “having a voice” as an indicator. 
The discussion was launched at the HBSC 30th Anniversary Event, which discussed and executed youth participation. First, the Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People presented the “7 Golden Rules for Participation” (see slides below).
Also at the event, HBSC welcomed a panel of youth from Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England, who presented a video on how they have been participatory in the decision-making process 
(see video below).


The audience, full of child well-being experts, had countless questions about how young people could be better supported by schools, parents, relevant agencies and the community during this transitional adolescent period. The exchange was enriching, with the main message of support us, trust us and ask us.

Here’s a quote from the Wikichild online discussion: 
We need to ask young people in a more systematic and constructive way. They need to be involved in the development and the implementation of well-being measures.” 
– HBSC Event Participant
The third step is to involve youth in the implementation process.
Empowering youth so that they may be involved in the implementation procedure is the final stage of youth participation. A report by the Youth Visioning for Island Living (YVIL) states that young people, while dynamic and innovative, “often lack the concrete skills and tools necessary to implement their ideas[iii].”  We should find out what skills and tools the youth are lacking and then do what we can to make them readily available. Reaching this level of involvement requires time, training and investment, but it’s worth it.
These three steps should loop around, as we listen to feedback from young people in order to continuously improve the means by which youth can participate in the decision-making and implementation of  programs.
But first thing’s first … Go ahead, youth, we’re listening. 

Melinda Deleuze
Wikichild co-ordinator

 [i] Agenda 21 was drawn up after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992
[ii] Chapter 25 of Section III of Agenda 21, entitled “Children & Youth in Sustainable Development”

[iii] Supporting Youth in the Implementation of Sustainable Development Activities (following the review of the SIDS programme of action, Mauritius 2005), initiative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


Adolescent Well-Being in Focus

Image taken from HBSC International Study 2011
Last week, Wikichild launched its first online discussion at Health Behavior in School-Aged Children’s 30thAnniversary event in St. Andrews, Scotland. The event, which spread over three days, featured a diverse range of speakers including participants from UNICEF, the OECD and Johns Hopkins University, who each in turn offered their insight into the field of child well-being.
The Wikichild presentation and following discussion were a great success with members of the audience showing enthusiasm for the online consultation platform. At Wikichild, Wikiprogress and Wikigender, it is our hope that these online discussions will allow researchers and policy makers to interact with members of the public and thus garner a more comprehensive perspective on important topics such as child well-being.
An interesting point that was raised during our presentation was that the online discussion references children without specifying what we mean by the word. Do we mean someone younger than 18 years or young people between 10 and 19 years? The consultation is intended to encapsulate opinions on the well-being of very young children and adolescents, however, the audience member who raised the issue, stipulated that the well-being of each group must be measured separately, both now, and in the future.
According to a recent Lancet paper on adolescent health, the health of young people between the age of 10-24 has improved far less than that of younger children over the past 50 years. This is due in part to the inadequate identification by researches and policy makers of adolescents as an individual group. It seems that the term young person not only has a number of different meanings but a range of definitions, which often overlap: a ‘child’ is defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a person younger than 18 years, ‘adolescence’ is categorized by the World Health 0rganization as the period between 10 and 19 years, the UN defines ‘youth’ as people aged between 15 and 24 years and so on (‘Adolescence: a foundation for future health’ – The Lancet). As a  result, governing bodies have struggled to focus investments to address the needs of adolescents.   
‘Building a worldwide agenda for adolescent health needs an escalation in the visibility of young people and an understanding of challenges to their health and development.’ Seizing the opportunities of adolescent health – The Lancet

While child well-being in itself is a fairly new topic of study, adolescent health is a much younger discipline by comparison. Decades of clinical experience and research has generated noticeable improvements in the growth and the integration of child public health, and members of the Lancet team argue that the same process must be applied to the field of adolescent well-being. 
The present generation of young people is the largest in history – with a population of 1.8 million, the majority of which live in low-income countries. In Africa for example, Young people aged between 15 and 25 represent more than 60 per cent of the continent’s total population and account for 45 per cent of the total labour force. Adolescents face notably different challenges from previous generations including rising poverty, inadequate education and mass unemployment and as a result there are increasing calls by experts for adolescent well-being to be high on the agenda for future development frameworks such as Post-2015.
To have your say on what you believe are the most important domains of well-being for young people, and how these areas should be measured, leave a comment on our discussion page. The conversation has already had some excellent input and we want to hear your opinion. Make your voice heard!
Robbie Lawrence
Wikichild Coordinator 

Can good governance solve youth unemployment?

This article by Robbie Lawrence, highlights how young people are very much part of the solution to youth unemployment. This post is part of the Wikiprogress Governance and Civic Engagement Series

“Education is our top priority but, once educated we want to be trained, enabled – and funded – to take action to address the challenges faced by our generation through youth-led development. We want, in Gandhi’s words, to ‘be the change’ we want to see in the world…” World Youth Congress, Hawaii, 1999

On the same day that the Bank of England upgraded its economic forecast, stating that inflation is expected to drop within the next two years, the Trades Union Congress reported that UK unemployment figures grew by 15,000 in the first three months of 2012 to 2.52 million. Rising employment numbers in the latter months of 2012 had offered a level of respite for the British government following a bruising financial year, however, today’s findings show that joblessness is still extensive.

The issue remains embedded among young people, with jobless rates soaring towards the one million mark and standing at 21.2% across the country. The TUC is concerned that while employment prospects for older workers have been improving, those for young people are far worse, and have deteriorated further since mid-2010. The damaging effects of unemployment on young people are well documented, and there is an increasing risk that the UK’s current 15-24 year olds will suffer lasting damage to their earnings potential and job prospects throughout their lives.

Global figures are equally gloomy. Over the last few years we have been inundated with statistics on the deteriorating situation in Europe (particularly Spain) for young job seekers and in Africa well over half of 15-24 year olds are currently out of work. According to a UN led report released last week, the weakening world wide recovery has further aggravated the youth job crisis and as a result the problem will continue growing over the next five years. The International Labour Organization’s ‘Global Employment Trends forYouth 2013: A generation at risk’ estimates that 73.4 million young people (12.6 percent) are expected to be out of work in 2013, and by 2018, this will have reached 12.8 percent.

Graph taken from ILO Report 2013

The report stipulates that young people face persistent unemployment, a proliferation of temporary jobs and growing discouragement in advanced economies; and poor quality, informal, subsistence jobs in developing countries:

“The economic and social costs of unemployment, long-term unemployment, discouragement and widespread low-quality jobs for young people continue to rise and undermine economies’ growth potential,” ILO – Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report.

Despite vocal concern around the issue, it seems that governments and organisations have struggled to find an effective means of combating youth unemployment. The recent World Economic Forum in Davos touched upon the subject on a number of occasions with some leaders suggesting that a global fund for unemployment be implemented. Yet there have been murmurings among critics that such steps are simply inadequate when faced with the ‘tidal wave’ of jobless young people sweeping the world’s nations. Lynda Cratton of the London Business School believes that in a similar way to global warming, the sheer complexity of the challenge renders it almost impossible to solve.

Following the release of ‘A generation at risk’ the ILO’s assistant director-general for policy José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs stated, ‘These figures underline the need to focus policies on growth, massive improvements in training systems and targeted youth employment actions’. 

Two recent Wikichild Spotlight reports look at tackling youth unemployment through effective governance.

– Developed by UNICEF and Save the Children, Children’s Rights and Business Principles provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing the impact of business on the rights and well-being of children. The Children’s Rights and Business Principles are built on existing standards and practices and helps to explain the opportunities for business of investing in children.  

– First published in Nairobi last year, UN-HABITAT’s State of the Field in Youth Development sheds light on how youth are positively impacting communities around the world. As part of wider series, this particular report stresses how young people can be beneficial to communities, and how local, national and international governments can implement, engage and support youth and youth led initiatives.

Both reports look to brand young people as ambassadors of change. ‘Children’s Right’s and Business Principles’ recognizes that children are among the most marginalised members of society, yet when provided with the agency to participate, they have shown that they can offer vital alternative viewpoints and make effective contributions. Similarly, ‘State of the Field’ emphasizes the need to have faith in the power of young people to contribute constructively to the good of society. It seems that both publications hope to change the attitude of governing bodies towards young people by showing that they themselves have placed youths at the center of their own projects. The ‘State of the Field’ report lists countless examples of how initiatives led by young people have positively benefited society.

Youth unemployment is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing governments this century and will worsen as populations swell and education becomes more readily available. However, the two publications featured provide hard facts about how the integration of young people in a country’s workforce can catalyse economic prosperity. With the development of more projects similar to the ones mentioned in the ‘State of the Field’ it seems that we can go someway to combating the problem.   

Robbie Lawrence 
Wikichild Coordinator 

The Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011: Why focusing on Arab children and youth is necessary for the future of the region

The Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011, carries on from the 2009 report of the same name and calls for the building of a knowledge society. The report emphasises the need to invest in the region’s youth, starting from early childhood, to enable them to build capacity, confront challenges and to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development throughout the region.

Children aged 15 years or less constitute 45% of the total population of the Arab region whilst young people aged 15-24 years, account for approximately 21%. In line with relevant literature, these figures indicate the potential for a future demographic dividend for the region which if capitalised upon, will further assist economic growth due to the improved ratio of productive workers to child dependents in the population (Ross J, 2004). Nevertheless, in order for a demographic dividend to materialize, the well-being of today’s children, tomorrow’s adults’ needs to be ensured. To become productive members of society individuals need a good start in life which includes, but is not limited to, effective social, emotional, mental and physical development, as well as access to education.

As documented by the report, not all of the necessary components required to achieve this end are present within the region resulting in the following issues for children and youth:

– The illiteracy rate amongst the Arab population aged 15 years and above was 29% in 2007 compared to 16% globally, 20% in developing countries, 9% in Latin America and 7% in East Asia.

– Coverage of children aged 0-6 in early childhood public childcare centres was an estimated 19% in 2010 compared to 41% globally.

– Child well-being, health status and child mortality indicators for the Arab region are far below developed country levels.

– The primary education enrolment rate was 84% in 2007, having increased from 78% in 1999, however net rates reduced in Jordan, Lebanon and Oman during the same period.

– Approximately 67% of young people are enrolled in secondary education in the region with females lagging males by an estimated 5%.
Source: Arab Knowledge Report 2010/2011

The Arab youth were key actors in the Arab Spring, the wave of popular protests that took place in 2010-2011 across the region, calling for change, political reform, social justice and an end to corruption. Their activism revealed deep frustrations as well as the power of this group and contributed to end the reign of long standing leaders in certain countries throughout the region.

In his address to the Global Colloquium of University Presidents at Columbia University, New York City (April 2, 2012), the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon stated, ‘When we talk about youth, we have to look beyond demographics to why young people are so powerful. Youth are often the first to stand against injustice. Youth is a time of idealism. Young people are a force for transformation’ (United Nations Secretary General, 2012).

The strategy proposed by the report of starting ‘from the ground up’ by building a new base of knowledge for children and youth and, creating foundations for the renewal of society’s knowledge base clearly acknowledges the force of the Arab youth for transformation and articulates the role they should play in the future of the region. In doing so it sets the region in good stead to convert its young demographic into a demographic dividend.

Additionally, it provides a strong guide for how the region may progress as well as a comprehensive methodology for measuring progress in the area of child well-being.

Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Consultant

Ross J, 2004, Understanding the Demographic Dividend,
United Nations Secretary General, New York, 2 April 2012 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote address to the Global Colloquium of University Presidents at Columbia University [as prepared for delivery]

Wikigender and Wikipedia have success in their University programs.

I just spotted this article on the Wikimedia Blog. It is all about students in cooperation with their teachers and Universities, writing their final term papers on Wikipedia. We think this is fabulous. So fabulous that Wikigender and Wikiprogress also have this program. This year we teamed up with Sciences Po in Paris, students at the American University in Paris and the CIDE in Mexico to encourage students to volunteer to write on gender equality. Next year we look forward to working with Universities in Thailand and India. See the Wikigender University Portal here.

Wikimedia University student Karl says in the Wikimedia blog, ““I still maintain that this Wikipedia project made a world of difference in being able to write well, and unlike a term paper, which is thrown away at the end of the semester, all the work that goes into a Wikipedia article continues to help people even after the class ends”.

Wikigender took this one step further and made a selection of articles and published it via Pedia Press. This book contains articles on gender equality and education, migration and peace and security. You can buy the book here (who wouldn’t want that in their stocking??) or download a printed copy. For more information see  the Wikigender University Portal.

Please let us know if you, your class or University would like to join this project at

Happy holidays!