The significance and impacts of a youth-led empowerment program and youth-led community development interventions in Myanmar
In Myanmar, youth are traditionally perceived as a less significant segment of the society. Hence, youth development issues and problems around youth have attracted little attention from community members. Youth empowerment is a human resource development tool and a process designed to help the development of young individuals, by enabling them to solve their own problems and contribute to the development of their community. This qualitative study examines youth empowerment initiatives of one youth-led organization and its alumni by employing Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and conducting semi-structured interviews. This study focuses on how a youth-led organization has empowered youth to become socially engaged for social transformation and get involved in the country’s development sector. Results show that empowerment is an ongoing process and reveal a new dimension of youth empowerment in the Myanmar context. This study found that the nature of youth-led development organizations for youth and social change movements differed. Youth-led empowerment actions offer learning opportunities and create spaces for young people to participate in community movements. Moreover, Socially Engaged Buddhism (SEB) is an alternative to the conventional empowerment approaches, which offers Buddhist principles for individual development of young people and stimulates youth to get involved in collective social change movements to tackle structural injustices.