5.7 Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here

The 2011 GYEOC showcased how the field has responded to the economic challenges facing various groups of marginalized youth throughout the world. Next steps include the following:

  • Intervene early in adolescence to empower young people to avoid risky or illegal economic activities.

Evidence from AGYW-focused YEO programs indicates that early interventions can empower young people to avoid risky behaviors such as engaging in illicit economic activities, gang participation, substance abuse, the sex trade, or early marriage. As a result, many programs are starting to focus economic empowerment initiatives on younger adolescents. Early interventions should be coordinated with rehabilitation efforts targeted at youth who do engage or have engaged in high-risk behaviors but seek a new way of life through alternate economic opportunities. Rehabilitation without an economic component may be incomplete; failing to address the true complexity and multiple motivations behind high-risk behavior.

  • Take “do no harm” as a minimum standard for all YEO programs, especially in conflictaffected situations.

New economic opportunities can expose vulnerable youth to new risks. However, many YEO programs fail to notice and address those risks in a timely fashion. By building effective situational analyses and youth-centered listening techniques into program design and M&E, practitioners can identify and mitigate risk earlier.

  • Include boys and men as allies.

The sexual and reproductive health fields have pioneered gender-based approaches that seek to involve boys and men in efforts to improve health outcomes for adolescent girls and young women. New programs presented at the 2011 GYEOC show promising results working with boys and young men around domestic issues that are typically associated with AGYW. More experiences are needed to contribute to the knowledge base and test these theories of change.