Youth participation

Empowering young people to shape their future

Children and young people have the right to be listened to on all matters affecting them so they can actively contribute to shaping their own lives and participate in the development of their communities. We encourage and support young people to have a voice and become active participants in decision-making processes. 

The right to speak up

Participation is a fundamental right and one of the guiding principles of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For children and young people, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) establishes their right to be listened to and taken seriously by adults. When young people are empowered and have an active voice, they can contribute to shaping their own future as well as the future of the communities they live in.

Listen to young people

We are committed to listening to the young people we work with. Young people who have lost parental care or who are at risk of losing it can provide valuable insights into their own needs and experiences. They can make vital contributions to finding solutions to the challenges they face and help drive improvement in quality care for children. We also work to give young people opportunities to express their opinions directly to decision-makers and stakeholders, engaging in global debates and speaking at international events.

Youth participation in action

The “Together” project aims to contribute to better embedding children’s rights in the responses to crisis situations across the EU, by empowering children and young people living in vulnerable family situations and in alternative care to participate meaningfully in decisions and solutions at local, regional and national level on all matters affecting them. Find out more about this EU-funded project here


In June 2017, SOS Children’s Villages Chile and other partner NGOs organised a youth forum at the Chilean Congress; over 100 young people were considered as youth ambassador. A young man named Franco was selected to represent Chilean young people at a high-level political forum at the UN in New York.

In his intervention, Franco appealed for development and social policies to take into consideration the needs and aspirations of young people, with a focus on equal opportunities for all to help break the cycle of poverty and exclusion so that future generations can be active and equal participants in society.
He stressed the need for there to be greater awareness of the plight faced by those growing up with foster parents or in alternative care units, having been separated from their families.
“Parents need to be given support so that they can support their children and prevent suffering and separation. It is cyclical. If the parents suffer, the children suffer too. If we resolve this problem we can resolve it for future generations.”

During the recent strategy development process, SOS Children’s Villages set up a youth coalition to ensure young people were involved in defining the organisation's strategy, which will guide our work throughout the next decade.

Participants from ten countries – Albania, Cambodia, Estonia, Finland, India, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru and Rwanda – held workshops with their peers to ensure their voices were heard during the strategy development process.

As a result, our Strategy 2030 encompasses their needs and perspectives, helping us give all young people in SOS Children’s Villages’ programmes a strong foundation for a successful, independent life.

SOS Children’s Villages Italy has given young people a platform to be agents of change and actors in the development of quality alternative care trainings for care professionals.

Part of this project included consulting young people to develop a special module which they themselves could deliver to care professionals. This module, which has received positive feedback from training participants, was created by and for young people and sought to highlight the importance of children’s rights for care professionals from their perspective and in their language.