A bit of history
We are proud of what youth movements have accomplished over the last 15 years. We also know that that there is much more to be done at every level and in every sector to support these movements.
These movements have put adolescents and young people on the global agenda. This work has strengthened coalitions, networks, collectives, and organizing efforts in every part of the world, building critical platforms for advancing the voices and experiences of young people. As a result, young people's access to education, contraception, HIV treatment, services and prevention, comprehensive sexuality education, and other key issues are now on the political map.
And while we see the well-intentioned efforts on the parts of governments, UN agencies, donors, and civil society organizations to support these movements to thrive, there are often gaps in the impact that these global initiatives have on the lives of young people, particularly those who aren’t being heard.
There is a systematic failure in developing effective policies and programmes that reach young people who are most in need.
Donors have identified adolescents and young people as priority demographics within their grant-making but are often not reaching young people who are doing meaningful work in their communities or providing the kind of support they require. Many youth organizations don’t have the resources to develop, scale or sustain their capacity and find large funding opportunities made inaccessible to them. As a result, youth organizations, networks, coalitions, and movements are under-resourced and often unable to be the force they can be for sustainable change.
While there is a growing body of research available on young people's health and rights, data available is often not used as effectively as it could by governments, donors, or youth groups. Data also needs to be disaggregated in both its collection and dissemination. The complex realities of young people's lives are all too often not translated or represented effectively in how data is used or collected, and we lack robust evidence to show how young people's meaningful participation can have an impact at community and policy levels.
THE GOOD NEWS
By acting collectively, across sectors and movements - and asking the right questions - we can respond to these challenges.
The Torchlight Collective brings together a unique set of individuals who come from youth movements and are currently working with governments, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, foundations, academia, the media, and the private sector as consultants. We are a vast network of networks, tapped into vast global communities, built on years of collaboration, strong relationships, and joint activism.
Our areas of expertise are intersectional, and while much of our experience starts with youth participation, engagement, and leadership-building, we have all worked across a range of other movements, such as the feminist movement, the LGBTQ movement, the environmental movement, and others. We have worked on issues like adolescent health, drug policy, conflict resolution and peace-building, climate change, HIV, and sexual and reproductive rights. Each of us has been a part of leading and building youth movements and have experienced first hand the challenges and successes of navigating programmes and policy-making across communities in Africa, the Americas, South Asia, and Europe.
While we would never pretend to know all the answers, we have many years of collective experience asking the right questions to the right people at the right time. We have walked the walk.
WHY THE TORCHLIGHT COLLECTIVE?
We understand these gaps and why they persist, and we are committed to working with, listening to, and elevating the complex range of human rights and youth movements around the world.
That’s why we have combined forces to offer our expertise, experience, and passion to organizations, networks, and movements interested in meaningful engagement, and to all those who are committed to working with young people to address the biggest global challenges of our time.