Programme Specialist – Youth Led Action


Position description

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

At UNICEF, we are committed, passionate, and proud of what we do. Promoting the rights of every child is not just a job – it is a calling.

UNICEF is a place where careers are built: we offer our staff diverse opportunities for personal and professional development that will help them develop a fulfilling career while delivering on a rewarding mission. We pride ourselves on a culture that helps staff thrive, coupled with an attractive compensation and benefits package.

Visit our website to learn more about what we do at UNICEF.

For every child, … a better life,

UNICEF works with adolescents and young people to empower them with the improved knowledge, skills and capacities to successfully bring about positive change in their lives and in their communities, towards achieving results in line with UNICEF’s Strategic Plan.

Throughout history, engaged young people and youth-led action have been a powerful force for change. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12 further enshrines the right of every child to express their views freely in matters affecting them and for these views to be taken seriously.

In addition to the well-documented benefits to individual development and transferable life skills, young people’s empowerment as change makers are crucial investments because they lead to long-term positive societal outcomes for all children. Around the world, we see young people who have used enhanced confidence and skills to strengthen civil society and increase the accountability of their communities, governments and corporations. This has resulted in more relevant and effective programs and policies on education, mental health, climate change, protection, and other matters in development and humanitarian situations; young people’s action has also enhanced inclusion, social cohesion, violence prevention, and contributed to peacebuilding. At the local level, we see adolescents and young people advocating for and making daily changes for the better in their families, in peer groups, in schools, and in their communities.

How can you make a difference?

This position’s scope focuses on 1) delivering upon/completion of commitments made to UNICEF’s contributing sections, donors and partners who support UNICEF’s initiative on youth-led action; and 2) to support resource mobilization and partnership renewals in 2024 during a crucial acceleration stage of UNICEF’s work for youth-led action for 2025 onwards. Importantly, this position will work with the Adolescent Development and Participation (ADAP) team to finalize/put in place key architecture to ensure multi-year efforts for systems strengthening are completed and put in place; working under the direct supervision of the Adolescent Development Manager, based in ADAP HQ (New York) as well as other UNICEF colleagues in the New York office.

The incumbent wiil be expected to liaise closely with New York-based UNICEF multi-sectoral teams (existing youth-led action collaborators such as Mental Health, Health and partners), as well as regional and country offices, and existing private sector and individual donors, working with the ADAP team to maintain and continue to build these highly successful internal and external partnerships. Note this function is for a specific duration of 10 months and based in New York to ensure business continuity.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have to…

Work with ADAP as liaison across UNICEF’s youth-led action initiatives to support, maintain and deliver on existing partnerships

  • Maintain and bring to completion partnerships with HQ sectors, including but not limited to with Mental Health, Health, Child Protection, Gender, Education, HIV and WASH sections, and UNICEF’s Division for Global Communication and Advocacy; ensure all deliverables and final reports are met in a timely manner
  • Maintain productive collaborations and partnerships with existing youth-focused partner organizations and networks and ensure continuity of business
  • Work with ADAP to ensure key deliverables and activities are completed within agreed timeframes as per donor commitments.

Work with ADAP to finalize external partnership agreements & reporting, and prepare for new partnerships

  • Play key role in resource mobilization and partnership finalization for youth-led action, working with PFP, PPD, private sector and individual donor networks
  • Lead work on drafting and finalization important final donor and other partner reports

Document, share and promote key findings, lessons learned, and other knowledge management products from first phase of youth-led action initiatives

  • Ensure youth-led action successes and lessons are documented and included in advocacy and related events, and participate in internal and partner events, fora, webinars, etc
  • Ensure and document success stories and best practices, including on social media

Provide technical assistance for select youth engagement initiatives

  • Provide technical support for existing and upcoming rollout of initiatives for UNICEF’s youth-led action portfolio in support of country and regional scale-up, including leading and conducting capacity building efforts, including trainings and master trainings
  • Provide technical assistance to Spotify/UNICEF partnership in youth engagement, in close coordination with MHPSS PGLT team

Lead and complete the youth led action website development and work with ADAP NY team on final revisions of global goods, resources and tools.

  • Work with ADAP team to finalize updated guidance, tools and approaches for young people, countries and partners on amplifying youth-led action
  • Maintain and curate youth-led action online resources on new website intended for implementer audience

Initiate and put in place structures for communities of practices for youth-led action

  • Work with UNICEF teams to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and community of practice for young people to accelerate their action and advocacy goals.
  • Help maintain, curate and support online community for young people and for adult implementers.

The following minimum requirements:

  • An advanced university degree in international relations, adolescent development, public policy, human rights, public health, education, anthropology, psychology, sociology, or another relevant technical field., and/or related field is required.
  • A minimum of five years of relevant professional work at the national and/or international levels in programme planning, management, and monitoring and evaluation, for youth engagement and youth-led action programs and initiatives is required.
  • Demonstrated, relevant work in resource mobilization/funding including direct interaction with funders from private sector is desired.
  • Demonstrated experience as a trainer and in experiential learning techniques
  • Direct work experience with youth organizations and young people; experience with adolescent participation and civic engagement highly desirable.
  • Direct work experience with youth-led action and/or advocacy initiatives; specific experience related to mental health, climate change, education, and young people in humanitarian settings desirable.
  • Strong IT skills and fluency with Microsoft Office Suites, Zoom, Drupal, and other programmes and should be noted in the cover letter or CV.
  • Fluency in English is required. Working knowledge of another UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish) is considered an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: UNICEF Values

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

  • Builds and maintains partnerships
  • Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness
  • Drive to achieve results for impact
  • Innovates and embraces change
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity
  • Thinks and acts strategically
  • Works collaboratively with others 

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