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Youth and Work in the Global South


Azim Premji University

Azim Premji University, The Centre for Sustainable Employment

The Centre for Sustainable Employment is a research centre at Azim Premji University, whose aim is to generate and support research in the areas of job creation, employment, and sustainable livelihoods.India is facing a severe crisis of employment and livelihoods. Economic growth has failed to generate secure, regular, and decent incomes for the vast majority. There is urgent need for fresh thinking that does not bind itself to any ideological pre-commitment except the right of every Indian to lead a secure, dignified life in a just and sustainable way. This thinking must be both, anchored in the real-world, and imaginative. CSE has been set up to foster fresh and creative thinking on this urgent and complex issue. The Centre has an in-house research team as well as a set of affiliated researchers at APU and elsewhere. It’s flagship publication is the annual State of Working India reports that offers new research, policy reflections, and vision documents on the state of work and workers in India as well as how to improve working conditions and job creation. CSE has published three SWI reports.


BRAC University, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) – Bangladesh

BIGD is a social science research and academic institute, grounded in developing country context and practices, with a mission to improve governance and development outcomes. We conduct rigorous, multi-method social science research, grounded in developing country operations, on a range of social and economic issues. Economic development and growth is one of our key areas, where we focus on poverty, skills and jobs, access to finance, small and medium enterprises, with an aim to promote equitable, sustainable economic development. Youth and work is a major theme among these: BIGD conducts several quantitative studies, especially rapid surveys during COVID, exploring youths’ education, work and gender differences in these categories to understand the dynamics and help develop constructive policies to overcome labour market challenges. BIGD also works extensively on qualitatively understanding adolescents lives’ and transitions, especially now to understand the impact of COVID on adolescents’ career trajectories.


Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED)

CAMFED (the Campaign for Female Education) is an NGO supporting girls and young women in rural sub-Saharan Africa. We’re a pan-African, grassroots-led movement tackling poverty, inequality and injustice through girls’ education and women’s leadership. The membership of the CAMFED Association – our alumnae network – now stands at 178,000 and continues to grow rapidly. CAMFED Association members are at the forefront of our movement through their philanthropy and activism and we have collectively supported over 4.8 million children to go to school. Our work with community and school partners enables the most marginalised girls to attend, learn and thrive in school. Beyond school, we support young women’s transitions to fulfilling and productive livelihoods – through entrepreneurship, formal employment and further education – and to leadership roles in their communities and nations.


International Labour Organisation (ILO)

The ILO has long been active in promoting decent work for young people especially in low and middle income countries. It is the custodian of the SDG 8 indicators regarding progress on youth employment issues: 8.6.1 (on the proportion of young people not in employment, education or training) and 8.b.1 (on the development and implementation of National strategies for youth employment). It publishes the biennial report Global Employment Trends for Youth and regular updates and briefs on the global situation of young people and the policy response in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. It supports national governments and Social Partners in the development and implementation of youth employment strategies and programmes. It leads the UN multi-stakeholder partnership, the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth.


Lahore University of Management Studies (LUMS) – Pakistan

LUMS was established in 1985 and is Pakistan’s leading research intensive university, excelling in teaching and driven by a philosophy of learning without borders. LUMS provides an integrated curriculum uniting disciplines to focus on solving the grand challenges of South Asia and beyond. There are four diverse Schools in LUMS – The Syed Babar Ali School of Engineering (SBASSE), The Suleman Dawood School of Business (SDSB), The Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Science (MGSHSS), The Syed Ahsan Ali School of Education (SOE) and the Sheikh Ahmed Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL). Unsurprisingly, with Pakistan having one of the largest youth populations in the world, there is considerable research going on in this area in all four schools. In particular the following areas have been explored – youth and unemployment, youth and gender, youth and entrepreneurship, youth and the national narrative, youth and politics, and youth and social media.

University of Cape Town logo

University of Cape Town (UCT) – South Africa

UCT is an inclusive and engaged research-intensive African university that inspires creativity through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship. UCT is committed both to protecting and encouraging ‘curiosity-driven research’ and research that has a real impact on our communities and environment. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his state nation address, called youth unemployment the country’s “greatest challenge, noting that COVID-19 had exacerbated the problems young South Africans face. In 2020, approximately 8.2 million (40.1%) of South Africa’s 20.4 million young people aged 15 to 34 were not in employment, education or training of any sort (figures from Statistics South Africa, Quarterly Labour Force Survey). Research and scholarship at UCT that tackles these issues, working in youth development and focusing on unemployed and under-employed youth, is undertaken by for example: the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU); the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU); the Graduate School of Business’s (GSB) Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship; the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance (NMSPG); the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Africa (J-PAL); and the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) based at GSB. Specific initiatives include UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative’s (PII) innovative tool: the “Youth Explorer” online portal ( and “Basic Package of Support” (BPS) programme (; and the “Youth Innovation Partnership” with Bertha and youth development lab Lucha Lunako (, who have teamed up to find practical and actionable ways to get young South Africans economically active, and better support those battling to access work and other opportunities.

Makerere University MAKERERE UNIVERSITY Makerere University, School of Social Sciences

Makerere University School of Social Sciences has many scholars working on youth and young populations, many addressing different faces of youth components. With a very large population of undergraduate and graduate students, the School of Social Sciences is the largest of the different schools at Makerere University. Scholars at Makerere working on youth issues focus on Livelihoods in general, Gender-based violence, youth and health, etc. Among the most recent youth projects accomplished by scholars at Makerere University are:

  1. Youth and the Construction of Citizenship and Social Space in Post-Conflict Northern Uganda

This project was about understanding different levels of vulnerabilities, arising from a multiplicity of situations, i.e. inability to guarantee rights protection; the constriction of the spaces for generation and maintenance of livelihoods; inaction and apathy on the part of the youth to confront socio-economic challenges among others. The project sought to understand and appreciate youth experiences of conflict and its aftermath. Thus, focusing on establishing the youth’s accessibility and exercise of their claims to social citizenships to live a normal life within the community was key. Critical issues of enquiry which emerges include: how the changing socio-political situation enabled or disabled the social citizenship and rights’ realization of young people in the Acholi sub-region; whether current development interventions are effective in deepening youth’s citizenship or not and the various ways in which the youth have exercised citizenship since the end of conflict in northern Uganda.

  1. The None in Three Research Project

The None in Three (Ni3) is a project was about the Development, Application, Research and Evaluation of Prosocial Games for the Prevention of Gender-based Violence. The Ni3 project is partnership between the School of Social Sciences, Makerere University with four Universities in the United Kingdom, India, Brazil and Jamaica. Deriving from the global statistic that one in three women are subjected to physical and/or sexual violence during their lifetime (Ni3), the project sought to change the statistic to none in three. The project focused on specific forms of gender-based violence (GBV) in partner countries by using digital technologies to engage youth as agents of change. The Ni3 project at Makerere University conducted both qualitative and quantitative studies to examine the dynamics, psychosocial and cultural causes of GBV, with a specific focus on child marriage. The study findings have informed the development of a prosocial computer video game designed to be used as an educational tool to empower young people to prevent child marriage and other forms of gender inequality.