Youth Directory 2011: Mapping Study of Youth Organizations and Informal Youth Groups
Author: Sadaf Javaria
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 07/15/2013
“There is urgent need to invest in Youth of Pakistan, Youth which represents the majority of the population in the Country-Youth Directory”
Pakistan is passing through a demographic transition where more than 60 percent of its population is below the age of 29 years. Pakistan has a demographic bonus and the number of youth will add to the demographic structures till 2050. If the country fails to address the needs and harness the potentials of youth then it can prove to be a disaster. The topic of youth is vital to address in case of Pakistan as the country is also passing through a phase of terrorism and extremism. Since 2003, more than 49 thousand people in Pakistan lost their lives and in most of the cases youths were the victims as well as the insurgents.
In such a scenario, youth organizations and informal youth groups can play a vital role in case of provision of platforms and to channelize energies of youth to a positive prospect. A mapping study recently published maps out nearly 500 youth organizations and informal youth groups working in Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory. The work of Dr. Shahbaz Israr Khan addresses the critical questions that the policy makers and youth experts would need to formulate integrated youth policies and strategies to channelize the energies of this youthful population for peaceful and prosperous Pakistan.
One of the important features of the study is that it provides a precise definition of youth organization (YOs) and informal youth groups and further provides a unique classification system to categorize youth organization into youth focused and youth as a component organization. One of the main strengths of the classification system is that by using the tool one can access the role and number of youth within youth organizations, in addition to their focus on youth issues. As a critic and expert, I remark such a classification system as an important addition to the scientific literature.
The study identifies that the number of youth organizations is smaller as compared to the need of the population. Punjab represents 56 percent (81,330,531) of the total projected population of Pakistan. Population of youth in Punjab is 24561820 while there are just 372 identified YOs. It means that every organization has to cover sixty six thousand youth. Now the total numbers of volunteers that the YOs have in Punjab are 197633.
Formal youth organizations represent only 5.25 percent of the total registered organizations and there are fourteen districts in Punjab where no youth focused and youth led organizations are found. Ironically, youth is a marginalized segment in youth organizations, the trend is worse in capital of the country. Youth Focused and Youth Led organizations comprise only 18.28 percent of the total youth organizations that means that youth are in fewer leadership positions. Youth representation in Board of Directors and decision taking positions is least, youth representation in BODs of youth organizations is less than 35 percent. In Islamabad, youth representation in YOs is even lower. International organizations seldom hire youth and the reason identified is the absence of required skills among youth.
More than fifty-six percent YOs identified are Youth as a Component & Youth Serving. This again shows the dominance of adults in youth organizations and that YOs are not youth focused. Sadly, the youth organizations concentrate on literate youth while out of school, illiterate and marginalized youth groups is the least focused area.
The study also highlights the program areas of the youth organizations. After categorization, the education programmes are found to be most prevalent. 302 out of 372 organizations have education programmes. Small micro-credit programmes are found to be the least focused area, as only 32 organizations have these programmes. Research studies have been identified only in fifty-seven organizations. While in ‘others’ category the prevailing identified programme is sport. Sport is found to be a programme area in fourteen districts; Vocational training programmes in thirteen districts; Flood relief related programmes in six districts; Small business training in five districts; Cultural, youth development and anti narcotics in five districts and; in three districts the organizations are working for marriages of youth.
One of the alarming findings is that that most of the youth organizations have least capacities to work on youth issues. Moreover, YOs have limited resources and minimal technical skills. Most of YOs cannot develop proposal. Therefore, they have to hire consultant for making proposals and projects. English Language is a communication barrier for most of the YOs. The majority of the YO officers have command over their fieldwork but are less proficient in English language. Forty percent of the YOs do not have email ids in Punjab. Less than thirty percent YOs have their websites. Less than thirty percent YOs have coordination either with any other YOs or with civil society organizations. So there is lack of coordination and networking among the youth organizations.
The study also highlights gender disparity among youth organizations. Overall representation of women in BODs of YOs is less than 31 percent. The widest gender gap is found in the district of where men represent 96 percent of the BODs while women represent less than 4 percent of the board members. Whereas the least representation of women among volunteers is found in the district of Mandi Bahaudin i.e. nearly 6 percent. Likewise, the overall representation of women in volunteers of YOs is less than 40 percent.
One of the appreciated approaches is the inclusion of informal youth groups within the scope of the study. The section is very rich and represents the diversity and beauty of Pakistani culture. The study identifies there area of scope and also that the groups have tailored their activities according to the culture of the area.
The study comes up with recommendations that are simple and applicable. The study is highly recommended for youth policy experts, government officials, youth researchers and civil society intelligentsia.
Bio: Sadaf Javaria, Gomal University, D.I.Khan. Associate Editor of Basic Research Journal of Agricultural Science Review (BRJASR).
Reviewer of Journal of Food Quality & International Journal of Agricultural Science. Blog: firstname.lastname@example.org