Unravelling the interplay between youth socio-economic vulnerability, exclusion, inequality, and violence in Africa

March 30, 2017

Africa is the most “youthful” continent in the world — more than two-thirds of the population are under the age of 35. With the youth population on the rise and the persistent unemployment crisis, there is a clear need to place youth at the centre of public policy discussions and development priorities.

While challenges vary between regions, there are growing concerns that the lack of opportunities — including the lack of decent jobs and the limited involvement of youth in decision-making — undermines social cohesion and paves the way for youth rejection of social constructs. Rejection can take the form of participation in gang violence, petty crime, organized crime, gender violence, radicalization, and armed conflict.

Youth issues are complex and multi-dimensional; many interventions designed to address them fail to achieve their objectives because the challenges are not fully understood. For the first time, two IDRC programs will work together on a common project to address these issues: IDRC’s Governance and Justice and Employment and Growth programs. They are supporting researchers to bridge information and evidence gaps in the complex interplay between youth, economic vulnerability, socio-political exclusion, injustice, and violence across Africa. Particular attention will be given to gender dynamics, specifically the different experiences of young women and men and the resilience strategies they employ.

In March 2017, IDRC’s program teams organized a regional multi-stakeholder consultation to identify the key knowledge gaps. These include the lack of comparative regional studies, multi-disciplinary approaches, and qualitative studies that recount individual experiences. Identifying these research gaps will guide future IDRC programming in the region, particularly in support of policy-relevant and norm-changing research projects.