Zambian Perspectives: A participatory contextualisation of Youth Civic Engagement (YCE) from both youth and adult Zambian perspectives
McArdle, Sheila Ann
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In the contemporary adult centered world, global policy has placed young people at the centre of the civic engagement debate. A universal definition of youth civic engagement (YCE) is lacking. The current YCE literature is pre-dominantly northern hemisphere based. A growing consensus moots southern hemisphere knowledge regarding YCE and associated themes are under-represented among existing literature. There is potentially more to gain by engaging in a critically conscious dialogue between northern and southern hemisphere knowledge. Perhaps the most conspicuous absentee from the current YCE debates is the youth voice, especially girl's voices. Historically, in both hemispheres the lives of girls have been overlooked. Against a legislative backdrop that advocates young people have the right to be heard. Adults tend to apply YCE definitions to research which are too narrow and restrictive to fully appreciate youth understandings of their own engagements. The necessity to work with youth perspectives to gain a more in-depth understanding of YCE becomes apparent. Initially, this may appear straightforward, but a significant challenge arises. A rights-based methodology may facilitate young people to be heard, but crucially should do so without de-stabilising the cultural context. The reason being sources of resilience which sustain young people are believed to be embedded in everyday cultural systems. If these systems become undermined, the very well-being of young people may become threatened. This thesis through a participatory methodology underpinned by cultural competency and resilience set out to contextualise YCE in Zambia. The process creation of inter-relational and intergenerational deliberative spaces generated collective knowledge regarding YCE, risk and resilience. In addition, the study provides insights into gender and other factors that restrict or privilege access to and participation in YCE opportunities in the context. This study opens up accessibility to both Zambian youth and adult perspectives of YCE and is a unique contribution to the wider YCE debate.