Adolescents have the right to influence or make decisions that affect their lives and communities.

When adolescents are provided the opportunity to participate in decision-making or actions of civic engagements, they also are given the chance to acquire or strengthen skills and improve their sense of self: the more adolescents participate, the more skills they develop, the more they feel able to participate.

Measuring Adolescent Participation

How many adolescents are able to participate in decisions affecting their lives? How many of them have high self-esteem or sense of self-worth? Are adolescents active in their communities?

To help answer these questions, UNICEF is developing indicators and data collection tools that can be used to measure on adolescent participation.

How is adolescent participation defined?

Meaningful participation occurs when adolescent girls and boys, either individually or collectively, form and express their views and influence matters that concern them directly and indirectly. Participation and engagement opportunities must be inclusive, giving adolescents of varying ages, socio-economic background, and physical, emotional and cognitive abilities, the chance to take part in shaping decisions and policies that affect their lives.

How has participation been measured to date?

Until now, participation has often been measured in terms of the presence of enabling factors which support participation. Enabling factors can include legislation on voting age, availability of safe spaces, and social and cultural norms. Participation has also been measured by process-driven indicators like the number of adolescents who take part in specific meetings, organized activities, groups or governance structures.

What is the purpose of the new measures of participation?

The methodological work underway goes beyond the measurement of enabling factors –and will assess not only if adolescents are participating in their family, school or community lives, but also the impact of such participation on their well-being. The aim is to understand whether adolescents have the opportunities and skills to influence decision-making processes, share perspectives and participate as citizens and actors of change.