Youth Delegates Call For Economic Component in Global Citizenship Education (GCED)

The Second UNESCO Global Forum on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) was held in Paris on January 28-30, 2015. a1sx2_300_GCED-UNESCO.jpgThe Open Working Group on the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has set GCED, now a priority topic, as an associated target of the main education goal due to its potential role in creating peace and sustainability throughout the world.

Representatives from OECD, Plan International, UNESCO, amongst others, presented on their experiences teaching and measuring the impacts of topics related to GCED, including human rights, environmental sustainability, civic activism and peace education. Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) participated as a discussant in the session Taking the Agenda Forward - pushing for a greater emphasis on the economic dimension of GCED and the inclusion of financial literacy and entrepreneurship education in the GCED learning framework.

Youth Call for Permanent Youth Participation and Economic Component

GCED should provide both information and practical tools for engaging in sustainable economic activities, promoting decent work while fostering entrepreneurship.

Youth delegate in their closing address to the GCED Forum

CYFI supports the statement given by the youth delegates at the close of the GCED Forum, calling for a more permanent role for youth participation in the development of the Post-2015 Framework for Action in GCED. We also fully support their call for GCED to “provide both information and practical tools for engaging in sustainable economic activities, promoting decent work while fostering entrepreneurship.”

The Missing GCED Component: Economic Citizenship Education

CYFI welcome’s UNESCO’s call for equipping youth with values, attitudes and skills that are necessary for forging a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world. CYFI believes education has a transformative power and can enable youth to take up on their role of responsible global citizens. However, CYFI strongly backs the following points:

  • While CYFI recognizes the importance of jointly addressing contemporary global challenges, CYFI feels that the economic dimension of global citizenship is not being addressed sufficiently by the current draft of the GCED framework.
  • Global issues related to youth unemployment, indebtedness and financial dependence should be explicitly mentioned by the GCED material. CYFI believes that leaving out these important challenges, and failing to recognize the impact they have on the situation of youth wellbeing, will be a disservice to the mission and purpose of GCED.
  • CYFI encourages UNESCO to recognize the importance of economic empowerment and financial responsibility of youth. CYFI promotes Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) as an effective tool to tackle these challenges and believes that providing young people with the skills needed to sustain a livelihood for themselves and their families represents a key peace and community building aspect of our work.
  • To these ends, CYFI calls for the introduction of learning outcomes in the area of livelihoods education, social entrepreneurship and ethically responsible financial and economic behavior.
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A First Look At The Post-2015 Agenda

In December 2014, the Secretary General of the U.N., Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, published a report titled Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet: Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post 2015 Agenda. The report puts forward 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets which aim at ending a1sx2_300_UN-meeting-CYFI-Youth-and-high-level-stakeholders-7.jpgpoverty, achieving shared prosperity, protecting the planet and leaving no one behind. It stresses the importance of using the millennium development goals (MDGs) as a “springboard” into the future—a future “free from poverty and built on human rights, equality and sustainability” (p. 5).

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) believes this report, and the presentation of the 17 SDGs, represents a major achievement in reaffirming many of the essential issues facing our world. The SDGs most relevant to the work of CYFI include 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 16 which, in very broad terms, cover issues of poverty, well-being, education, gender equality, economic growth and sustainable development. However, CYFI must stress that a greater emphasis on the issues facing young people, especially in regards to financial inclusion, economic citizenship education and sustainable livelihoods should be included in the associated targets.

National Strategies for Economic Citizenship for Young People

CYFI applauds the strong focus on inclusiveness and “leaving no one behind” (p. 34), and welcomes the many references to improving the global situation for children and youth in the Secretary General’s report. CYFI supports the position that “Young people will be the torch bearers of the next sustainable development agenda through 2030” (p. 3). Young people represent some of the most vulnerable members of society, and are therefore most deserving of our protection. However, they also represent our future and should thus receive the majority of attention when it comes to policy making at both the global and local level. CYFI believes that a stronger emphasis should have been made in the report on increasing the level of economic citizenship for children and youth, especially through the policies and initiatives of national and regional bodies.

Economic citizenship is achieved when an individual has the opportunity to access appropriate financial services, acquire relevant skills, secure a sustainable livelihood and participate in social, economic and political life. It plays an important role in the eradication of poverty and in facilitating inclusive, sustainable economic growth. CYFI’s National Implementation Manual provides guidance to government authorities seeking to design strategies to further advance financial inclusion and education for children and youth. As children and youth represent nearly a third of the world’s population, it is essential that national economic citizenship strategies are incorporated into the targets associated with the post-2015 agenda.

Financial Inclusion for Young People

While the report does mention the need to “stimulate and support a1sx2_300_Product-Development-Guide-2014.jpgentrepreneurship” and to “provide universal access to financial services” (p. 24), it does so, unfortunately, without specific mention of children and youth. CYFI believes strongly in financial inclusion for young people, enabling them to save and develop greater financial capability. In 2014, CYFI and the MasterCard Corporation developed a tool for financial service providers entitled Banking a New Generation: Developing Responsible Retail Banking Products for Children and Youth, a Product Development Guide. Greater access to formal financial services can help pave the way towards employment, entrepreneurship and investment opportunities, allowing young people to build assets and invest in their own futures. Children and youth often face barriers to financial inclusion that are of a different nature compared to other groups, and therefore need special attention. The UNCDF YouthStart initiative, and its promotion of sustainable financial and nonfinancial services for children and youth, is an example of a positive effort being made in this direction. In order for inclusive and sustainable economic growth (as is expressed in SDG 8) to be realized, it is vital that specific targets be included in the agenda which make formal financial services more accessible to young people.

Economic Citizenship Education

The report states that, “It is essential that young people receive relevant skills and high-quality education and life-long learning, from early childhood development to post-primary schooling, including life skills and vocational education and training, as well as science, sports and culture. Teachers must be given the means to deliver learning and knowledge in response to a safe global workplace, driven by technology” (p. 17, 18). CYFI strongly agrees with these sentiments and urges decision makers to set targets which will include Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) in its education goals (e.g. SDG 4). The ECE Learning Framework was developed by the CYFI Education Working Group, which was co-chaired by UNICEF and the OECD, and integrates elements of financial, social and livelihoods education. When ECE is combined with financial inclusion, it can lead to greater financial capability and empowerment, thus giving children and youth the opportunity to become active economic citizens. Possible synthesis of the CYFI ECE framework and UNESCO Global Citizenship Education programs could create a stronger, more extensive and influential program. CYFI suggests that the ECE framework, and its accompanying assessment tool, be incorporated into the agenda and its associated targets as part of the answer for life-long education, vocational training and life skills.

Sustainable Livelihoods

SDG 8 declares that it is necessary to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” (p. 14). Regrettably, this statement does not specifically refer to children and youth, but it does establish the necessity for a stable livelihood for all. CYFI strongly believes that promoting sustainable livelihoods and stable incomes for children and youth is an essential element in eradicating poverty. This is because children and youth have the highest levels of risk and opportunity in relation to poverty: they can either rise out of it through education or entrepreneurship, or relapse into it when faced with monetary or knowledge barriers. Such barriers must be removed so that children and youth are able to fulfill their true potential and poverty can be eliminated—a goal common to CYFI and SDG 1. CYFI efforts to promote sustainable livelihoods are represented in the Ye! Network: a web portal that provides young entrepreneurs with a diverse set of resources to help their businesses thrive.

Youth Participation & Engagement

a1sx2_300_Youth-Engagement-Country-Handbook.jpgThe report specifically states that there is a need to “accommodate voices of women, [and] youth”, and to “remove obstacles to full participation by […] adolescents and youth” (p. 17). Throughout the report, and in several of the SDGs (such as SDG 8, 11, and 16), inclusiveness is mentioned as a central element of the agenda. When children and youth are given the chance to participate in their community, in areas such as finance and politics, it can lead to personal growth and transformation on a wider scale. Participation allows children and youth to increase control over their lives and learn how to make their own monetary decisions, creating an environment that better supports and improves their wellbeing. CYFI has created the Youth Engagement Country Handbook to give governmental, academic, civil society and other national stakeholders a better understanding of the financial inclusion and education initiatives available to better engage young people in their countries. Engaging youth in this manner will encourage the larger goals mentioned in SDG 1, 4, 5, 8, and 16. Associated targets within the new agenda should stress the importance of including youth participation and engagement.


While the Secretary General’s report is full of promise, and the SDGs with their associated targets represent real potential for global improvement, some issues related to children and youth remain unaddressed. Despite the report’s numerous references to the inclusion and well-being of young people, there has been a failure to sufficiently translate these sentiments into concrete goals and targets. CYFI, therefore, urges decision makers to make youth a priority, and to adopt a more aggressive approach to the youth related issues outlined above.

This article was authored by Oleksandra Pravednyk and Sean Filidis – CYFI Interns

Oleksandra is a Ukrainian student currently earning a bachelor degree at Amsterdam University College. She is currently interning at CYFI in the global education and engagement department, where she is in charge of CYFI relationships with multi and bilateral organizations.

Sean is an American business student and freelance ICT specialist living and studying in Amsterdam. He is currently interning at CYFI in both the Communications and the Global Engagement and Evaluation departments. He considers himself socially engaged and globally-minded, and hopes to continue making long-term, meaningful contributions in the non-profit sector.

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End the Cycle: Empower our Girls

On October 11 Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child, an annual event instated by the UN in 2011 to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This year, the theme was “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence,” and focused on bringing attention to the challenges and difficulties faced by adolescent girls throughout the world on a daily basis.

Basic necessities, which many of us take for granted, are merely an aspiration for a large number of adolescent girls around the world who suffer from lack of education, poverty, malnutrition and abuse, to name a few. While much is being done to address these problems related to basic needs, a further step must be taken in order to secure a brighter future—financial inclusion. It is therefore imperative for adolescent girls around the world to have easy, safe and reliable access to Child and Youth Friendly financial services.

Inclusion and Education Vital For Empowering Young Girls

Financial inclusion and Economic Citizenship Education are important and necessary components of empowering girls, providing them with the resources and self-confidence they need toEducation leads to empowerment create a sustainable future for themselves and their households. To mark the International Day of Rural Women (October 14, 2014), UN Women's Executive Director, Ms. Phumizle Mlambo-Ngcuka, published an article arguing that not having sufficient knowledge, and therefore not being empowered to claim their rights to equality in land and resource ownership, was one of the main setbacks keeping rural women economically, socially and politically excluded. Economically empowering these young women, particularly in rural settings, is essential for not only their own socio-economic benefit, but also for the larger scale benefit of the international economy as it will create a more well informed and financially capable global economic citizenry

The celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child and the International Day of Rural Women is significant as we strive towards eradicating the many difficulties that girls and young women face throughout the world on a daily basis. On this note, CYFI believes strongly that it is important that young women are supported in their effort to overcome these barriers and create opportunities, not only for themselves, but for other young girls and boys around the world as well. Our partner Plan International runs the inspirational Because I am a Girl campaign which promotes equality in education and vocational training: Raise your hand if you believe that every girl has the right to education here.

Malala: A Young Girl Championing Equality in Education

Malala Yousafzai is a remarkable example of a young girl who is striving to create a better future for children and youth around the world by dedicating time and effort into promoting the rights of girls to education. After surviving a shot to the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for blogging and campaigning for girls’ education in northern Pakistan, she has now become an international spokesperson for the equal rights of children to education in all parts of the world. CYFI was pleased to see Malala win the Nobel Peace Prize last week along with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights campaigner from India who founded the Bachpan Bacho Andolan in 1980. Malala’s dedication to fighting for education and Satyarthi’s dedication to fighting against child slavery and labor exploitation are commendable, and CYFI joins in the recognition and celebration of these admirable efforts on the International Day of the Girl Child.

It is also worth noting that the shared win of the Nobel Peace Prize by a Pakistani and an Indian, while their respective nations are engaged in an ongoing border dispute, serves to highlight the fact that, despite odds and opposition, progress can be made for the cause of peace alongside that of equal rights to education and financial capability for children and youth. The efforts of such individuals, and the organizations which support them, prove that it is possible and necessary to ensure that all children and youth, particularly adolescent girls, receive quality education and are given opportunities to create a sustainable and secure future for themselves and their communities.


This article is authored by Shaireen Moon - CYFI Intern

Originally, from Pakistan but now living in the USA, Shaireen recently graduated from University of California Berkeley and has decided to take some time off from studying to explore her interest in international development. Shaireen is currently interning at CYFI in the research department where she aims to gain more knowledge about economic citizenship for children and youth and the difficulties that are encountered in this industry.

Image courtesy of StockImages at



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Commonwealth Youth Programme Pacific Regional Consultation

Commonwealth Youth Programme Pacific Regional Consultation (June 27-29)

This event focused specifically on the issue of expanding financial inclusion to increase youth employment in the Pacific Region. The event gathered representatives from Central Banks, Ministries of Youth and Ministries of Finance from leading Pacific nations such as Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and New Zealand. It also brought together prominent regional representatives from multilateral organizations such as the ILO, ADB and the UNDP.

CYFI was invited to present on the CYFI Education Learning Framework and our work to support national strategies for financial inclusion and education for children and youth.

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