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Driving meaningful adolescent and youth engagement in PMNCH and beyond


Over the past couple of months, young people have rallied on social media to share their experiences on discrimination, abuse, tokenism and uncompensated work towards young people in global health and development - many of them being members of the PMNCH Adolescents and Youth Constituency (AYC). PMNCH believes this is a critical moment in history to mobilize and act around all forms of discrimination (i.e. racism, ageism, sexism), including youth discrimination, tokenism and exploitation.

In 2015, PMNCH created a constituency for Adolescents and Youth (AYC), providing an opportunity for young people to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their active participation and involvement in the implementation of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health. The AYC1 is the only constituency representing a population segment within PMNCH, making it a unique and dynamic group.

Having led on the development and implementation of the Global Statement on Meaningful Adolescent and Youth Engagement (MAYE), PMNCH strongly affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives.

This builds on a growing body of evidence showing the importance of MAYE in development efforts and reaffirms PMNCH’s commitment to protect and promote the rights of all young people, and to ensure they are central in agenda setting as well as the development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of all policies, programmes, and initiatives that affect and protect them.

We also acknowledge the importance of engaging early adolescents (ages 10-14) and encourage the additional precautions it requires to secure their meaningful engagement and ensure their safety.

In addition to driving the global endorsement of MAYE, PMNCH commits to ensure that we ‘walk the talk’ with MAYE and ensure our members are knowledgeable and capacitated to implement MAYE within their own organizations, as well as our own operations.

To date, PMNCH, with leadership from the AYC and the Secretariat on the issue, has taken significant steps to ensure endorsement and implementation of MAYE over the years by:

Opportunities for meaningful collaboration

1) Establishing an AY Constituency (AYC) and ensuring AY seats on the PMNCH Board, the central decision-making body, as well as ensuring the constituency’s representation on all relevant PMNCH committees and working groups;

2) Ensuring leadership roles for the AYC with remuneration to develop and implement numerous initiatives and products, while raising the visibility and exposure for the AYC’s work, through promotion on social media;

3) Creating a mechanism for AYC leaders rotating out of their leadership roles to be supported with ‘advisor’ grants to ensure adequate transition out and support to incoming AYC leaders;

4) Identifying AYC members to work with other PMNCH members on various projects, committees and meetings, and requesting that PMNCH members compensate the AY representatives for their time with an honorarium, stipend and co-authorship (where applicable).

5) Increasing Secretariat positions and opportunities for young people, recognizing that currently approximately 15 % of the Secretariat are under 30 and 35% are 35 and under;

Financial investments and capacity building

6) Establishing grants for numerous youth-led networks at global and country levels to strengthen the youth movement through coalition building and support their capacity for advocacy and accountability for WCAH;

7) Offering various capacity building opportunities to MAYE including mentorship, co-producing knowledge products and offering digital tools and webinars, among others;

8) Setting up a policy for youth representation with remuneration on decision-making bodies as well as ample opportunities for public-speaking, co-authoring of papers, etc. – this not only ensures that youth voices are present but that AYC members are actively engaged and recognized for their work as young professionals.


9) Mobilizing approximately 250 endorsements for the Global Consensus Statement on MAYE and establishing an accountability mechanism to follow-up with partners for tracking progress on their commitments. PMNCH will report back on the survey findings at its flagship event, the PMNCH Accountability Breakfast, during UNGA 2020 and in 2021;

10) Conducting an independent assessment of the PMNCH AYC in 2019, which identified key recommendations for improving PMNCH’s model of engagement with young people and are currently being implemented.

We remain committed to working closely with the leadership of our Adolescent and Youth Constituency, to improve our MAYE by:

1) Continuing to facilitate a dialogue and action between the AYC and its nine other constituencies to ensure PMNCH, collectively, is taking appropriate and necessary actions for creating an optimal and enabling environment for meaningful youth engagement, including instituting and revising the remuneration policy (including the amounts) to meet their needs;

2) Ensuring the AYC is operating effectively with its tools and resources to be a strong and unified national, regional and global movement of leaders;

3) Ensuring AYC members, in all their diversity, including those most affected, are represented, actively engaged as new committees and working groups form in alignment with the emerging PMNCH 2021-2025 strategy;

4) Strengthening our communications around MAYE to ensure the international community is familiar with PMNCH’s work on MAYE while encouraging members to follow similar principles and guidelines;

5) Developing guidelines on youth professionalism, drawing on the experiences shared by young people on social media, to build capacity of members to operationalize the Consensus Statement on MAYE; and,

6) Using PMNCH’s convening and coordinating platform with members across all constituencies to drive accountability for MAYE.

To our adolescent and youth leaders, we thank you for making your voices heard and encourage you to continue speaking out and strides towards eliminating professional discrimination. PMNCH stands in solidarity with you and supports your strides!

The theme for 2020 International Youth Day on 12 August is Youth Engagement for Global Action. This is an opportunity to put the spotlight on MAYE and mobilize commitments for action.

Follow @PMNCH for updates and remember to tag #YouthDay #adolescents2030 #YouthEngagement

1. The AYC is composed of ambitious and inclusive youth-led organizations from 192 countries, working at country, regional and global levels.