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Report examines ways to enhance participation and inclusion in youth organisations

Seeking to shed light on the obstacles and challenges concerning the inclusion of participants in youth organisations, KMOP – Education Hub together with 5 other organisations in Europe published a comparative research report titled “Key issues in applying equality, diversity and inclusion in youth organizations – the experience of five EU countries”.

The goal was to investigate the perceptions of youth organisations on young people’s experience of unconscious bias, social exclusion and discrimination. It also aimed to identify possible barriers to their participation in youth organisations alongside recommendations on how youth organisations can be more inclusive of diverse groups of young people.

Reasons for discrimination and exclusion

More specifically, the report highlights the most common reasons for being vulnerable to discrimination, exclusion, and/or lack of access to equal opportunities. These are affected by the socio-economic status of young people and their families, their physical appearance, and age. Other factors include their country of origin, race, ethnicity, religion or nationality; gender inequality and sexual orientation (particularly affecting young women and youth belonging to the LGBTIQ+ community); as well as physical or cognitive disabilities and mental health issues.

Barriers to inclusiveness

Lack of time and resources of youth organisations were pinpointed as a main barrier to inclusiveness, together with their lack of initiative and training opportunities, the homogeneity among organisational staff, and even a lack of concrete policies on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In addition, youth mentioned that youth organisations’ activities were tailored to those with free time and financial ease, and stressed that migrant status, cultural diversity, and language barriers are significant hindrances to participation, and this is accentuated by living in remote areas, refugee camps or ‘closed’ communities. This leads to young disadvantaged people seeking security and acceptance within their own groups, which also leads, however, to isolation. Certain groups (e.g. migrants, refugees, Roma youth) face unequal access to education and the job market, while youth with disability often end up in their family’s care, deprived of social contact. Moreover, all countries report unequal treatment and gender-biased behaviour toward young women and men, and discriminatory and exclusionary behaviour toward LGBTQI+ youth.

Recommendations for more inclusive youth organisations

The report recommends that youth organisations review and design more inclusive processes, organisational policies and recruitment practices, so as to increase their potential reach to diverse youth in their communities. It also proposes to create partnerships with underrepresented communities and organisations to access diverse young people, and increase the knowledge and expertise their staff have on inclusion and diversity, as well as to improve communication with diverse young people, their families and communities, and to adapt activities based on equality, diversity and inclusion.

The findings will be used to in the development of resources promoting organisational policies and practices that support equality, diversity and inclusion in youth work.

The research was conducted between April and June 2023 among 99 young people aged 16-25 years old, and 50 youth workers, beneficiaries and staff of 30 youth organisations from Spain, France, Italy, Croatia and Greece.

The report was prepared in the context of the project EDI GO – introducing the organisational approach to integration of equality, diversity, inclusion model in working with young people, which aims to support organisations working with young people to review their inclusive practices and provide recommendations on how to improve them.

Read the full report here.

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