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Promoting Youth-Led Participatory Research: overcoming presumptions and prejudices

ICYRN conference, 9-11 June 2015, Nicosia, Cyprus

Kristen Cheney

on 12 January 2017

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Transcript of Promoting Youth-Led Participatory Research: overcoming presumptions and prejudices

Exclusivity of research:
domain of certain ages, classes,
ed. levels, races, languages

Skepticism about young people's
Can they handle it??

Culture of experts:
need to cede control

Overcoming resistance
Back to research basics:
Different methods are appropriate for generalizing particular things. It’s like asking,
is a saw better than a hammer?

Using mixed method approach (rather than quantitative, representative sample), drawing from sample to population.

Recognize what is NOT our fight:
much of it was the organization's
internal politics
Keep pushing
the boulder up the hill...
the project
Different ideas about
what ‘youth participatory’ means
about young people’s sexuality

Adults were still ambivalent about youth capability and vulnerability – difficult to overcome when ensconced in NGOs' child rescue missions.

Young people as co-creators of knowledge vs. ticking
the ‘voice’ box

the training
NGO partners used to ‘quick and dirty’, extractive research; resistant to initial and long-term training that helps interpret data WITH young people.
we discuss origins of resistance to youth-led research in a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) research project in Ethiopia and Uganda.
In this presentation
Promoting Youth-Led Participatory Research:
overcoming presumptions and prejudices

Held inward-looking workshops with local and international partners to challenge assumptions about gender, generation, and participation
Circles of Support
Thank you!
Prezi available at: http://bit.ly/pylpr
Part of a larger INGO project to contextualize their CSE programs, the study was youth-led
conceptually: young people’s concerns drove the research
logistically: youth peer researchers were trained and supported to collect data from various stakeholders.
: Viewing young people as key actors in (rather than targets of) knowledge production about their sexual and reproductive health needs, the project involved youth peer researchers in all stages
generating research questions
agreeing on research tools
collecting data
reflecting on the findings and analysis.
picture of young people’s lives by
drawing on the experiences of rural and urban, in-school and out-of-school youth
assessing the gendered, generational, socio-cultural, economic, and religious contexts in which young people’s sexuality and reproductive health issues and decision-making are embedded.
The study

Though youth-focused policymakers and INGO partners claimed to be in support of young people’s involvement, there was still considerable resistance to the project, especially where it concerned young people’s competencies. The researchers encountered voiced skepticism about their abilities and even resistance to the research design -- often from the very organizations who conceptualized and funded the project.
The challenge
Why do such prejudices persist? What epistemological frameworks support such presumptions?

How did/can we overcome such resistance for the promotion of young people’s meaningful participation in research, policies, and programs that directly affect them?
Questions raised
Local Main Researchers
ISS Researchers
Concerns about ‘what ISS would do’ if we trained YPRs.
Quality concerns: a limited, positivist understanding of research.
Kristen Cheney & Auma Okwany
Children & Youth Studies
International Institute of
Social Studies
The Hague, Netherlands
Full transcript