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COVID One Year In: Young People’s Perspectives

Posted 03 May 2021 in EMpower News, Grantee Partner News, Publications   |   Share


A year into the COVID-19 crisis, EMpower wanted to learn how young people around the world and our grantee partners—the local organisations working with them—had responded and what they needed most. We surveyed 38 young people (ages 10–29) in 10 countries and staff from 26 grantee partner organisations from 13 countries. We wanted to better understand how the crisis had affected their lives and their work.

In India, we conducted participatory action research with and for girls—an innovative approach that puts the power of research in the hands of girls, so their insights are at the center. We engaged and trained 25 girl leaders from cities across India to interview 150 of their peers (ages 10–24) about their lives now. We released these findings in a report “COVID In Her Voice.”

Globally, many of the negative impacts of the pandemic are common across cultures and countries. The crisis has exacerbated inequities, especially for the most marginalised, and bolstered barriers to education, work, education, health care, and safe spaces. Following are examples of what we heard directly from young people, in their own words:

How COVID-19 Has Affected their Lives

“I am constantly anxious and fearful of my future.”

–Female, Age 15, India

I have felt a lot of stress from the classes since I do not have the best cell phone or the best internet. And had no experience with electronics. It was very confusing for me.”

–Female, Age 13, Peru

We are just working and working in the house. No time to study…My parents don’t want me to attend meetings again and I am losing my friends.”

–Female, Age 16, Ghana

What Young People Say They Need

I really wish that people could understand that I am in need of therapy…being at home doing nothing all day really has a negative impact on one’s life.”

–Male, Age 22, South Africa

“I would like to have a space where young people can get together to talk, play, share, eat something together because we have been isolated for a long time.”

–Male, Age 17, Peru

“Young people have a lot of free time so they need to create part-time jobs online for students to earn extra income.”

–Female, Age 23, Vietnam

“Provision of sanitary pads for young girls, training on how to take care of our bodies and support from our community leaders to stop those who abuse girls.”

–Female, Age 16, Ghana

It is great that people are enjoying spending time with their families, but there is still a huge ratio of girls and women who do not feel safe in their own homes.”

–Female, EMpower Girls Advisory Council Member, India

Thoughts about the Future

“There is a setback or stagnation regarding the objectives that we have for ourselves in the present and for our future.

–Male, Age 22, Argentina

“Young people just need to have a simple conversation with somebody so they can feel a lot more confident about the future.”

–Male, Age 25, Russia

“I always think that it will not be this way forever, this is a difficult time for us. Everything will be okay. So just stay safe, healthy and believe that we can get through this time.”

–Female, Age 21, Vietnam

Learn more about what young people had to say and our grantee partners’ perspectives in this Executive Summary.

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