The United Nations defines youth as people between the ages of 15 and 24. Definitions, however, vary from country to country and region to region, with many definitions including people up to age 35.
The different age groups within the definitions of youth may imply different needs and opportunities. For younger people, such as those between the ages of 15 and 18, priorities may relate to completing secondary education and transitioning to productive work, eliminating all forms of hazardous work. Conversely, those who belong to the age group 18+, who may already be working and supporting families, may benefit from initiatives to upgrade and learn new skills related to their specific areas of work.
Gender is an important dimension that influences opportunities to build and use the capacities of young people in agriculture. The challenges of reaching young women, who are often constrained by heavy domestic workloads, traditional customs and beliefs, and even constraints on their mobility in some societies, with education and training initiatives can, in many cases, be greater than those related to reaching young men.
Dynamics such as high rates of teenage pregnancy and early marriage prevent many young women from participating in education and training and greatly limit the livelihood options available to them. Persistent gender biases in access to productive resources, particularly land, must be addressed along with targeted capacity-building initiatives to ensure that young women have the opportunity to use their knowledge and skills productively.
Socioeconomic contexts also obviously determine the opportunities available to rural youth in different countries and regions, intersecting with gender and age dynamics.
In Africa, for example, a large number of young people live and work in rural towns and settlements. Moreover, there are big doubts about the potential of the urban sector to absorb these young people into wage employment.
It is clear that the role of agriculture, and particularly small family farming, in providing decent livelihood opportunities for rural youth in the coming years will be important.
At the same time, connectivity between rural and urban areas in some regions remains poor, especially in terms of infrastructure, but also in terms of services and institutions needed to facilitate the flows of goods, information, money and people. These gaps can increase the transaction costs associated with investment in agriculture or in financial institutions operating in rural areas.