/ Youth Participation

The participation of young people is the right to have a say in decions affecting young people whether it’s in their own homes, schools, hometowns or rural municipalities, counties or more widely in Estonia, Europe and in the world.

In the case of active participation, youngsters make their own decisions and offer solutions, while in the case of passive participation, youngsters take part in the activities offered by society.

Participation is divided into:

  • Public participation: the engagement of individuals in various structures and democratic institutions (elections/voting, membership of formal organizations);

  • Social participation: collective activities that individuals are involved in (volunteering, civic association);

  • Individual participation: choices and activities that individuals make on a daily basis that reflects the kind of society they want to live in.

Youngsters need participation to make their voices heard and young people seen; participation gives young people the opportunity to be a part of the community – to feel that them and their opinions are important, to get used to voicing their opinions, to intervene and not to overlook, thus enriching the community.

The participation of young people in Estonia has been systematically developed for almost ten years. In the early days of talking about youth participation the term “participatory council/body” was used. Nowadays youth participation is referred to as “participation opportunities” – whether it’s an opportunity to participate in decisions concerning the youth or oneself in an organized way, such as a participatory body or in a nonformal active group or take part of participatory activities that are aimed at youngsters (eg participatory café, discussion night etc).

Estonian National Youth Council (ENL), with the help and support from the Ministry of Education and Research, has been developing the participation of youth and participatory bodies since 2008, working together on a base of knowledge to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes concerning the youth.

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