'Adolescent Transitions’ - Adolescent Poverty and the SDGs

Adolescence is a time of change: the mental and physical challenges faced by children transitioning to adulthood are often difficult to navigate. Between the age of 10 and 19, individuals are vulnerable to social exclusion based on differences in gender, location, ethnicity, sexuality and many other aspects. In many countries, girls are more likely than boys to suffer from reduced mobility, isolation, disinheritance, early marriage or genital mutilation. Boys, who maybe expected to contribute to the family income, can suffer from social pressure which can push them to drop out of school. 

The second decade of life of an individual is therefore a crucial step from childhood to adulthood and can determine poverty trajectories. During this decisive period, the poorest children in MOST countries lack opportunities for social mobility.  Poverty exacerbates the risk of exclusion through stigma, poor access to services and lack of social networks.

There is a need to design and implement programmes aimed at understanding and supporting children from the most marginalised groups – such as LGBTIQ adolescents – who may require a particular combination of education, protection, legal and family support needs. Although important, these interventions might be tricky to design and implement as they have to take into consideration the economic and cultural pressures that households experience.  At the same time, poverty experienced by children, and especially adolescents, tends to be neglected in international debate on poverty reduction, which inevitably keeps the topic out of policy agendas. 

Last 27th of April 2016, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) hosted a roundtable discussion on ‘Adolescent Transitions’, within the framework of the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty. The aim of this roundtable, chaired by CPAN Research Fellow Anna Mdee, was to discuss a forthcoming brief by the Global Coalition focused on Adolescent Transitions, Child Poverty and the SDGs. The discussion focused on the changes which occur during adolescence, the policies and programmes needed to support young people and the identification of gaps and priorities. One of the main conclusions has been the importance to bear in mind that young people can be agents of change. They need to have say in the shaping of tomorrow’s world and be able to advocate social changes by expressing their own viewpoints which are likely to be different to those of the previous generations. 

The Global Coalition to End Child Poverty was launched at the UN in October 2015 in the attempt to address a policy gap on child poverty. The Global Coalition to End Child Poverty now counts 25 members from various organisations, who regularly meet to discuss ongoing research and collect evidence on the topic in order to influence policy.  Another roundtable will be held again in the near future in order to go deeper into the debate and attempt to give a voice to this important fraction of the population. 

Anna Mdee and Vidya Diwakar, from CPAN, will be giving a presentation on “Economic empowerment for chronically poor adolescent girls: addressing intersecting inequalities and identifying opportunities for change” at the Young Lives Conference in Oxford in September 2016.