Youth as Influencers in Plan India


Youth at the first National Youth Advisory Panel in 2015
Youth at the first National Youth Advisory Panel in 2015


With more than 356 million young people (10-24 years), India has the largest youth population in the world.

Youth have been a powerful source to bring about change in society and Plan India has always considered them as an integral part of the organisation. Over the years, they have played a keen and pivotal role in shaping our programmes and policies. The empowerment of youth can happen when they are provided opportunities to form their own associations to facilitate collective action and become ‘Agents of Change’. These opportunities present themselves in the form of the Youth Advisory Panel (YAP).

YAP was first formed in 2015 when youth from nine states came together in New Delhi. A total of 24 YAP representatives (12 boys and 12 girls) were elected from the nine states to be part of the National YAP. Members are supported through capacity building to enhance their understanding of various government schemes, policies, and legislation as well as Plan India’s programmes, strategies, decision-making structure, project management and the ability to conceptualise and initiate their own projects. They are also trained in leadership, communication, and negotiation, problem-solving and decision-making skills and are enabled to advocate on behalf of other children and young people. All of this is done so that they may become ‘Youth Influencers’.

Plan India has a unique approach when it comes to engaging with YAP members. This approach can be categorised under four brackets, i.e.; Consultative, Collaborative, Youth-led initiatives and Youth as influencers.


Members at a capacity building workshop in 2016
Members at a capacity building workshop in 2016

Consultative: Consultations are held with the youth to understand their perspective on various topics like experiences of children and young people living in poverty or are vulnerable or living in marginalised communities. These inputs are collectively incorporated in the organisation’s Country Strategic Plan. YAP members are also encouraged to share their opinion and raise their concerns at national conferences like Plan for Every Child and Difficult Dialogues. They are also consulted to express their views on global policies on the likes of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Non-Communicable Disease Policy among others.

Collaborative: At the community level, YAP members are encouraged to be part of different forums like School Management Committees, Village Development Committees, Child Protection Committees, etc. At the state and national level, members are engaged in the decision-making process when organising conferences and events such as Plan for Every Child. Media Groups are formed to report on conferences and ‘Youth Debatathons’ are held to discuss pertinent issues of children in difficult circumstances.

Youth-led initiatives: YAP members are also equipped with the skills to design their own programmes and implement them at the community level. They are involved in awareness creation on many themes by using different media tools like theatre programmes, print media, and comics.


Yasmin during her takeover of Daiichi Sankyo on International Day of the Girl
Yasmin during her takeover of Daiichi Sankyo on International Day of the Girl

Youth as influencers: In aligning with Plan India influencing strategy, YAP members are encouraged to influence duty bearers to bring quality services, policy changes and enforcement of law at a different level. At the community level, they have brought many positive changes in children and youth, particularly on issues faced by girls. Further, members have also submitted memorandums to state ministers to address the issue of child marriage.

Today, YAPs continue to be present in nine states with over 120 members, with four states having their own state-level YAP as well. Taking into consideration the steady changes they have already been able to bring about, there is confidence that the youth can lead us into a future that is filled with positivity and confidence, just like themselves.


Written by: B. Ilango, Consultant, Children and Youth Engagement, Plan India