Practical Tips on Engaging Adolescents and Youth in the COVID-19 Response
Sustainable Development Goals: 3, 9
- SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being
- SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
COVID-19 represents an unprecedented global emergency with numbers of cases continuing to soar, schools closing, and health services preoccupied with handling COVID-19 cases. Though the elderly and those with preexisting conditions are most vulnerable, adolescents and youth are also at risk of contracting and transmitting the coronavirus. Additionally, the closure of schools continues to impact education of adolescents and youth and fracture social networks. Disruptions to formal and informal work are creating new pressures on livelihoods including amongst youth. Such public health crises will also exacerbate existing vulnerabilities, access to care services, and inequalities, particularly for women and girls.
While the COVID-19 response will need to address priorities and needs of adolescents and youth, they should not only be considered as affected populations but also as highly effective partners in the COVID-19 efforts. They can meaningfully engage to be educators and change agents among their peers and in their communities. For this to happen, stakeholders need to be encouraged to value adolescents and youth, approach them as equals, respect their views and leverage their added value to the response. Working alongside young people will help bridge inter-generational divides and promote solidarity between age groups. The purpose of this brief is to provide practical tips for UNICEF country offices, partners and young people themselves on engaging adolescents and youth as part of the COVID-19 preparedness and response. As a first step, we recommend engaging with adolescents and youth to understand what their needs are, and how they can take action. Consultations with adolescents and youth is your best ‘go-to’ resource to determine how UNICEF can engage, protect, and support adolescents and youth in the COVID-19 response. Remember that the ‘do not harm’ principle must always be applied. All actions should be evaluated for potential risks for harm and, as necessary, plans developed to mitigate those risks.