Youth engagement

Our aim is that young people around the world do more, do better and reach further—all while contributing to safe and resilient communities. To reach this goal, we believe that young people need to be fully and meaningfully involved in our programmes and governance.

Young people play a vital role in humanitarian action and development around the world. They represent the majority of our 14 million strong volunteer base, delivering lifesaving and life-changing work within their communities every single day.

We see meaningful youth engagement as essential to delivering effective and principled humanitarian assistance and transforming our organization for the better.

It’s important to remember that while youth can be loosely defined by age, young people are not one singular group. Factors such as gender, socio-economic background and ethnicity all affect their access to equal resources and opportunities. We must listen to and consider this diversity of young people’s experiences and needs in all that we do.

How we engage young people

Youth volunteers from the Indonesian Red Cross at a youth gathering in South Sulawesi

Youth as leaders

We support young people to participate in decision-making at all levels of our management, governance and service delivery. We advocate for and with them, tackling emerging humanitarian and development issues together. And we prioritize and invest in personal and professional development for young people in current and future leadership roles.

Two young Serbian Red Cross volunteers at a migrant reception centre in Subotica talk to 12-year-old Haora (left), a recent arrival from Iraq, about how to recognize and act in potentially dangerous situations.

Youth as volunteers

There are approximately 7 million youth Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers worldwide—making up over 50% of our volunteer base. We meaningfully engage them in our programmes and services, motivating and retaining them as much as possible. We guarantee their well-being, security and safety at all times. And we recognize youth as vital contributors to innovation across our network.

Kenya Red Cross, in partnership with government authorities is harnessing the power of youth to help tackle health outbreaks

Youth as people we support

We promote our fundamental principles and humanitarian values to young people around the world in order to save lives and change minds. We listen to young people’s specific needs and preferences when delivering our programmes and services. And we encourage young people we support to give back to their communities.

Principles of youth engagement within the IFRC

Youth volunteers from across the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement celebrate together at the 2019 Solferino global youth gathering in Italy

Youth volunteers from across the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement celebrate together at the 2019 Solferino global youth gathering in Italy

Photo: Italian Red Cross

  • We consider youth engagement as essential to building strong National Societies
  • Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteerism is central to youth engagement and is an effective and meaningful way of engaging young people in civic action
  • Education, empowerment and enabling environments are vital for youth engagement
  • Youth are agents of change with the power to address global humanitarian challenges relevant to their local communities
  • Youth in decision-making at all levels of management, governance and service delivery are crucial for transferring experiences and knowledge between generations

Learn more in our Youth Policy

Youth Commission

The IFRC’s Youth Commission is responsible for advising our governing bodies and National Societies on all matters relating to young people. It promotes the implementation of the IFRC’s Youth Policy and ensures young voices from across our network are considered in all that we do.

The commission is made up of young volunteers and staff from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. There is a chairperson and eight members, all under 31 years old at the beginning of their four year term. Elections are carried out at alternating IFRC General Assemblies.

View current members of the Youth Commission and learn about the IFRC’s other commissions and committees.