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Youth & Economic Empowerment

Through Plan International USA’s Youth and Economic Empowerment (Y&EE) programming, we are committed to the goal that young adolescents and youth will live in communities that value their participation and provide opportunities for their leadership and economic empowerment. As a result, the world will benefit from more economically stable nations with engaged citizens, who actively contribute to their communities.

We work with youth in 72 countries around the world. Through our community-based and gender-sensitive approach, our programs engage marginalized youth to build their productive assets and prepare them with appropriate skills to manage their transition into work and adulthood. Our holistic programming targets very young adolescents (10-14), adolescents (15-19), and youth (20-29). In 2013, the Plan economic security portfolio amounted to $56 million, providing over 60,000 people with vocational and business training.

Asset creation — We facilitate young women and men’s access to finance, including financial literacy and the development of a savings culture through Savings Groups and clubs. Our programs have reached over 1.2 million Savings Group members worldwide, of which 82 percent are women and girls, and 250,000 are children and youth under age 25.

Pre-employment competencies — To succeed in the job market, youth need socio-emotional and life skills and information. Our pre-employment competencies build self-confidence, leadership, and communication skills, and help youth access information on basic rights; career counseling; financial education; and sexual, reproductive, and health rights. These competencies help youth not only to get jobs, but more importantly, to keep them. Our life skills and entrepreneurship programming also prepares young entrepreneurs for challenges ahead by building their resilience.

Youth engagement and leadership — Our youth engagement programs serve young people, both domestically and internationally. Through the Youth Leadership Academy and the work of Youth Advisory Boards, youth — and particularly young women — enhance their leadership skills and bring a youth voice to Plan’s programs. Plan engages youth in advocacy platforms at local, national, and international levels. Young people also contribute to our program design, planning, monitoring, and evaluation work.

Focus on adolescent girls — We target the most excluded and vulnerable youth, and much of our programming focuses on adolescent girls. Evidence shows that young women are the most affected by unemployment due to gender inequality, motherhood at an early age, and gender stereotypes. Masculinity programs — Essential to positive youth development, gender awareness stands as a foundational component of our Y&EE programming. For example, in El Salvador young men in our programs host puppet shows on themes of gender, enabling them to speak openly on sensitive topics without shame or fear. Program participants report being less aggressive, more respectful, and more engaged in household chores, and they also acknowledge building new skills that could be used in their careers.

Partnership — We work closely with local governments and private sector partners to address the skills and employment gaps young people face and to identify market-oriented solutions that can work at scale. Our experience and long-standing relationships with government entities are used to influence positive changes in national and international policies. We are actively engaged in the World Bank’s Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) initiative and many other U.S.-based youth-focused coalitions and centers.


Sarka Sengezener, Senior Director - Youth and Economic Empowerment

Send her an email.


Egypt: Forsa

A youth-to-youth life skills and employability training project.

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