How can NGOs effectively support youth-led groups and movements?

How can NGOs effectively support youth-led groups and movements? Three youth movement leaders from three continents explain what NGOs need to know



About this session

There’s no doubt we are living through a ‘movement moment’, with the likes of Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter grabbing the headlines and seemingly advancing more progressive change more rapidly than traditional NGOs. At the same time, youth voices, perspectives, and leaders are becoming more and more prominent and important in these movements, from the worldwide fame of TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year 2019, Greta Thunberg, to the emergence of The Sunshine Movement and March For Our Lives in the USA. It may be a cliché, but it is these younger activists who will shape the future long term, so it is encouraging to see so many movements with such strong youth leadership.

With this rise in youth-led movements, we are seeing a corresponding rise in NGOs and other external parties looking to support and collaborate with them. However, this brings many of its own challenges as traditional organisations don’t always understand the way youth-led social movements work and function. If these collaborations are going to be successful and create real long-lasting change, NGOs need to gain a better understanding of how they can most effectively, sustainably and respectfully work with youth-led groups and movements – especially those embedded in other cultures and countries.

Civicus recently released the Resourcing Youth-led Groups and Movements Playbook to provide important tools, connections, and new ideas for both young activists and their allies. In this session we will be hearing from three leading figures in youth-led movements in Asia, Latin America, and Africa whose stories helped to shape the Civicus Playbook.

Natasha, Elena, and Millicent will share their past experiences of working with NGOs, donors, philanthropists, and institutions. What worked successfully? What were the key challenges? What can other NGOs learn from this? Through their stories, anecdotes and personal experiences we’ll learn what NGOs and other potential partners should do in order to be more effective supporters and allies of youth-led movements.

This session is aimed at:

  • Activists and supporters of youth-led movements from around the world.
  • NGO employees, donors, philanthropists, or institutions who want to champion and support youth power.
  • Anyone who wants to make the world a better place and believes youth-led movements are important in achieving this.

What you will learn

  • How to communicate with youth-led groups and movements
  • The most common challenges faced by both sides in these types of partnerships
  • The challenges that youth-led groups and movements face resourcing their work
  • The importance of understanding culture and context
  • Difficulties faced when NGOs from the ‘Global North’ look to support youth-led movements in the ‘Global South’ – and how to successfully overcome them
  • What needs to change in terms of the power-dynamic between NGOs and youth-led movements in order for these relationships to be successful and sustainable






Millicent Ayaba (Ghana)
Assistant Project Officer, Youth Harvest Foundation
Natasha Chaudhary (India)
Co-Director, Haiyya
Elena Mejía (Peru)
Activist, Foro Juvenil de Izquierda