WHT Scholar Speaks about Youth empowerment at the House of Lords Goals

Irina Fedorenko, WHT DPhil Scholar at the School of Geography at Oxford, has presented a case for supporting youth entrepreneurship and youth-led NGOs at the panel at the House of Lords on May 24.

The event was a part of the report launch of Emerging Markets Symposium, an initiative of Green Templeton College to promote solutions to high priority problems of human welfare in emerging market countries. It brought together authoritative and influential leaders from governments, the public and private sectors and academe to address critical sectoral issues.

More than one billion young people now live in the emerging market countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. A new report, Young People and the Future of Emerging Markets, urges their governments to address the specific needs of these young people in order to sustain economic growth, social cohesion and political stability.

The report identifies key challenges:

 High levels of unemployment among highly skilled and educated as well as unskilled young people represent not just a ‘lost generation’ but a squandered opportunity to capitalise on the economic dividend of a ‘youth bulge’

 Suicide in some emerging market countries now runs second to transport accidents (males) and maternity (females) as a leading cause of death

 Girls aged between 15 and 19 are twice as likely – and girls under 15 five times more likely – to die of complications during pregnancy or childbirth as women aged 20 or over

 Rates of adolescent obesity are growing alarmingly in emerging markets.

The report draws attention to findings from recent neurological studies suggesting that the brain is not fully developed until the third decade of life. This biological transition may help explain some of these vulnerabilities, underlining the need for knowledgeable and empathetic guidance from authorities, teachers and health professionals. The resolution of inter-generational tensions may depend on changing generational perceptions and improving inter-generational communications.

Ian Scott, Executive Director of the Emerging Markets Symposium, said: “This report emphasises the need for practical solutions. Because emerging markets have ample recent experience of managing rapid social change, they may be better-placed to succeed than many richer countries.”

Irina shared the findings from her PhD research on civil society and entrepreneurship in Russia and China. “Despite the lack of financial and institutional support, there are thousands of young people who take responsibility not only for their lives, but for their communities and even countries. The non-profit projects they lead, the businesses they build have potential to change the world, but in most cases they just go under the radar of national and international institutions and decision-makers. If you want to have a generation of responsible adults in the future, you need to start treating young people as such right now” – said Irina.

About the author:

Irina Fedorenko is currently reading for a DPhil in Geography at the University of Oxford as a Hoffmann Scholar.