This week, more than 3,700 participants will gather in Kigali, Rwanda, for the fifth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). What is at stake? The lives and well-being of an estimated 214 million women of reproductive age in developing countries who want to avoid or delay pregnancy but are not using an effective form of modern contraception.
Young people, often the most vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist groups, play a crucial role in countering and preventing violent extremism. But how can we more effectively focus on youth to reduce violent extremism? To answer this question, we convened a forum on the latest thinking in this rapidly evolving field. The forum, held earlier this year in Washington, DC, was webcast for a global audience.
Kyle Dietrich of Equal Access International, Lauren Van Metre of George Washington University, Dean Piedmont of the Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism Initiative and Joseph Sany of FHI 360 shared new research on and approaches to youth engagement. They covered topics including reorienting radicalization, youth-led approaches to preventing violent extremism, the role of social media and extremist messaging, and the reintegration of foreign terrorist fighters. The participants identified prevention as the most promising opportunity to mitigate violent extremism.
The global economic landscape, along with the nature of work, is rapidly changing. More and more people are working outside of a typical office environment and in the gig economy. This is creating new economic opportunities — and challenges. The abilities and aspirations of young people, who now number almost two billion, are often unrealized, especially in the developing world. What is the best way to secure their futures?
We believe that positive youth development interventions can support and empower youth to be more engaged, healthy and productive members of their communities. Meeting young people where they are — whether in person or online — is necessary to build the critical skills and competencies to meet the demands of a growing and evolving economy. Our research shows that positive youth development interventions can facilitate resilience and, when combined with labor market analysis, prepare young people for future employment.
Preparing the future workforce requires transformations in what we know, how we learn and how we workWritten by
Artificial intelligence, smart systems, decentralized manufacturing and other technologies are driving major uncertainties around the future of work. Experts from MIT and the World Economic Forum suggest that we are in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, characterized by new technologies that will affect all industries. As the very nature of work changes rapidly, old jobs are disappearing and new jobs are emerging in every sector of the economy. This has produced a major shift in the demand for skills that is happening worldwide, and we can expect further shifts going forward.
Reducing the lag time between the development of new jobs and the preparation of the workforce to meet new skills needs is a core concern for workers, new graduates, employers and governments. And while the pace of transformation in jobs and skills differ by country and region, evolution along the technological spectrum is taking place everywhere.
A version of this post originally appeared on Locus. Reposted with permission. Locus is a coalition of organizations dedicated to advancing evidence-based solutions to global development challenges that are integrated, driven by local communities and based on shared measures. FHI 360 is a member.
Here’s a development scenario you’re probably familiar with: Imagine a young girl growing up in a remote rural area, raised in a poor family. Girls here are not typically encouraged in the same way as boys are to imagine themselves having exciting future careers, nor even the more vanilla option of working at the sole local factory. Virtually all the local authority figures are men. Contraception (especially for adolescents) carries a shameful stigma and is difficult to access. The girl’s school is chronically underfunded. Some of her peers get pregnant early, some drop out of school, some marry early. In short, she faces several financial and social barriers to a healthy, stable and productive future. Now be honest: were you picturing a young girl from a poor country in Africa or Asia? If so, you’re wrong.
That girl was me. Who grew up in America and is now a healthy, educated woman with a successful career. Does now knowing that the girl in the story was American make the happy ending less surprising? Probably so, and that illustrates a fundamental problem with the way we approach empowering women and girls in the developing world. Indeed, clearly the privilege of growing up in America provided me with a deeply significant advantage in overcoming those initial roadblocks to a healthy and happy life. But what about all of the other various ingredients, that when combined together became my recipe for success? Shouldn’t girls and women be supported in the same way, no matter where they live? Let’s break it down.
A version of this post originally appeared on Girls’ Globe. Reposted with permission.
Opening up the panel, Greg Beck, FHI 360‘s Director of Integrated Development, told the story of one particular attempt to aid in relief efforts. After great effort, and amassing donations and supplies, they opened boxes to find stacks of things like inflatable toilets and acne cream.
Asked Beck, “How is this going to help anybody rebuild their life?”
Beck’s point was an extreme example of a nonetheless integral point: development and aid are not straightforward, not simple. They don’t consist of simply hurling donations and good intentions at a problem and hoping something sticks.
The term “integrated development” means just that — that development is complex and requires coordinated, planned effort across sectors.
It operates around the idea that development does not exist problem by problem, sector by sector. You can’t improve global health without improving education without improving women’s rights. Naturally, there are some specific efforts that require a concentrated approach, but overall, a holistic view is more effective, and organizations and governments need to address what people really lack in the complex, multilayered environments in which they live — not just what we think they need.
Youth and contraception: two words that when used together excite visceral responses throughout the world. The response is even more fraught when we consider long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs) for youth. Both intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants are LARCs, and the challenges for young people who wish to use them — lack of access, myths and misconceptions, provider bias and community stigma — are pervasive. We have to understand more about these challenges in order to overcome them.
In late May 2015, FHI 360 and partners — U.S. Agency for International Development, PSI, MSI and Pathfinder International’s Evidence to Action project — sponsored a symposium, called “For Youth, a Healthy Option With LARCs” in Washington, DC. The meeting convened more than 100 experts from around the world, including program advisors and implementers, researchers, health providers, donors and advocates, as well as young people themselves. The meeting’s goal was to encourage participants to share experiences, tackle tough questions and advocate for wider access to LARCs for young women.
With a new global development agenda on the horizon, debates abound over which actions and investments will be the most influential for meeting the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Arguments for or against narrow, targeted solutions are becoming increasingly lost in the cacophony. Meanwhile, demand is growing for discussions that better reflect the complex, interrelated nature of the updated goals and targets.
One promising framework for sharpening this dialogue focuses on the next generation — youth — and how strategically integrated investments in their well-being can accelerate progress toward the SDGs, reaping dividends for everyone along the way. Integrated development strategies have the potential to provide today’s massive youth population with the knowledge and skills to grow into healthy, successful adults.
There are currently 1.8 billion young people in the world between the ages of 10 to 24, and among this largest generation of youth in history, 89 percent live in less developed countries. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa the median age is roughly 18 years old versus around 38 in North America and 41 in Europe.
Imagine the potential if each one of the 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries could have full control over her reproductive life. She would be able to stay in school, delay marriage, postpone pregnancy, and support herself and her community. Yet, approximately 16 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 give birth each year and one-third of girls give birth before their 20th birthday.
To advocate for young people’s access to safe, reliable contraceptive information and services, FHI 360 co-hosted a meeting today on youth and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCS). With participants including the LARC and Permanent Methods Community of Practice Secretariat, Population Services International, Marie Stopes International and Pathfinder, the meeting highlighted the range of highly effective contraception methods available and provided a platform for tackling tough questions about how to effectively promote LARCs for youth.
We all know that children are the future. We have seen the commercials picturing heartbreaking photos of children in need or adorable youngsters with the brightest of dreams, and asking for donations to support them. Such attention has made a difference. Children globally are healthier and better educated than at any time in human history. According to a 2014 U.N. report on the Millennium Development Goals, the enrollment rate in primary education in developing regions increased from 83 percent to 90 percent over just the last decade. In addition, the child mortality rate has almost halved since 1990, with 6 million fewer children dying in 2012 than in 1990. These are achievements that development organizations — and the taxpayers who support them — should be proud of, having plowed billions into primary education, vaccinations, and other efforts that have helped young boys and girls around the world.