Terms of Reference: Landscape and trends analysis on youth-led groups and movements innovation

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Johannesburg, GP, South Africa
Published 26 days ago


At CIVICUS our focus is simple: to strengthen civil society and citizen action around the world. Our global alliance of activists and organisations in 175 countries is inspired by our vision of a global community engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity. We work together for a more just, inclusive and sustainable world.


  • Defend civic freedoms and democratic values.
  • Strengthen the power of people to organise, mobilise and take action.
  • Empower a more accountable, effective and innovative civil society.


  • Build solidarity among civil society across borders and at scale
  • Support civil society to connect with others
  • Produce timely and world-class knowledge and analysis
  • Advocate for open spaces and systemic change
  • Amplify voices of those not usually included
  • Promote the resourcing of a diverse and resilient civil society
  • Innovate and incubate bold initiatives
  • Promote, model and disseminate civil society best practice

CIVICUS is looking for an experienced research consultant or team of consultants who will work with young activists, as well as youth movements and organizations around the world to map youth-led activism and youth participation in intergenerational social movements (e.g. feminist and climate movements), with a focus on forms of organisation, organising and mobilising tactics and innovations leading not only to new forms of youth activism but also to changes in the ways intergenerational movements operate, as they are transformed from within by young people enriching their tactics and making them more massive and visible in the public space. 

Specific objectives: 

  1. To map organising models, civic engagement strategies, methodologies, agendas, discourses, and mobilisation tactics used by young people worldwide to accomplish social transformation and understand how they differ from non-youth led forms of organising. What are the distinct characteristics of 21st Century youth-led activism, in particular youth from excluded backgrounds?
  2. To highlight the key roles young people are playing as generators of social change and innovation in social movements. 
  3. To celebrate the stories – including challenges, victories and backlash – of diverse groups of young activists from every region of the word, especially the ones coming from excluded communities, with the aim of putting together a different product (report, social media campaign, webpage, etc) including lessons learned and positive narratives to help increase their visibility, power public trust. 

Location : Flexible. Work will be done virtually throughout the contract. Access to strong internet and working equipment is required (laptop, microphones, etc.)

Preferred Start date : 1st July 2022

Duration : six months with possibility of extension


There is growing evidence of the key roles that young activists play in contemporary societies. They are present in most street mobilisation, championing both age-old and new causes. The effects of their creative and innovative participation are apparent in various movements for human rights and the inclusion of vulnerable groups and marginalised populations, from the climate change movement to a variety of feminist and LGBTQI+ movements. 

International forums and organisations have recognised these efforts and tried to institutionalise them by creating specialised offices, such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Programme, launched in 2011, the United Nations’ Envoy on Youth, established in 2013, and the Youth Sounding Board launched by the European Union’s Office for International Partnerships in 2021. 

Various governments have also done similarly: according to the State of Youth Policy 2014, the most recent available, in that year 122 out of 198 countries had a national youth policy – a 50 per cent increase from 2013. A further 37 states were either developing a new or revising their existing youth policies. 

Moreover, according to a report by Oxfam, up to 57% of documented initiatives since 2010, and 76% of cases on (local and organisational) policy changes were driven/influenced by youths. Nevertheless, there remains a significant gap in identifying relevant data that encapsulate most of the recent developments of youth social movements - and the attempts of drawing correlations or causations between these movements and their broader impact/ “success” are relatively immature. 

CIVICUS has captured some expressions of youth-led citizen action in its annual State of Civil Society Report and/ or contributed to civil society organisations, philanthropy and UN agencies analysis on the topic. Recent reports such as the If I Disappear published by the UNSGOY in 2021 or the State of Youth Civil Society, published by Restless Development in 2022. However, these contributions are not yet systematised nor complemented with the data available (and not available yet) on the experiences of young activists defending their rights. The CIVICUS Youth Action Team found that the data available on youth civic participation: 

  • Highlights the specific challenges that young activists face in their work, and not so much the creative forms they use and their impact (Missing Peace, 2018)  
  • Is outdated 
  • Some themes are more analysed than others (eg. Peace, sexual and reproductive rights, climate, education, etc) and doesn’t have a general overview of other types/ thematic priorities (eg. Unions, disabilities, young indigenous rights, lgbtq, justice, etc.) 
  • The focus on youth activism experiences either remains at a very local level or at a very broad global level and thus does not allow to identify easily the impact and transcendence of these initiatives.
  • Experiences of young activists from non-English speaking communities, offline, or simply outside the traditional development circles do not get captured. The lack of resources for many youth groups creates an obstacle to allow them to narrate their stories, learnings, tactics, etc.  
  • Several youth groups and intergenerational movements involving youth operate in informal ways and thus miss the chance to have direct contact with organisations that can help to document their work.
  • A trend of transnational cooperation between youth movements and causes has been developing in the last few years, yet it remains mostly not documented.

In conclusion, deeper analysis on the ways young people organise and collaborate with older generations, considering the nuances of each regional context and thematic agendas, remains to be done. 

This initiative falls under CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation’s efforts to Strengthen 21st Century Citizen Action, aimed at improving the capacity and increasing the resources of a wide range of civil society actors, and notably of young activists, to organise in more autonomous, sustainable and resilient ways. We expect this research project to contribute to this by offering a better understanding of the latest trends of youth activism.  

This research will also contribute to the celebration of CIVICUS 30 years and is under the commission of CIVICUS Youth Action Team 20221-2023. 

CIVICUS is looking for an expert to assist in this endeavour.  


The purpose of this analysis is to:

  1. Research and discover insights around the global state of youth-driven activism and youth-led groups/movements, with particular emphasis on innovation and unique added value that they bring to social change.
  2. Produce an analysis report, unpacking, understanding and systematising the organising models, civic engagement strategies, methodologies, and tactics used by young people worldwide to accomplish social transformation

Organisation of Work 

Following the broad outline provided in the scope of work a detailed methodology will be developed together with the selected consultant based on their technical proposal. The successful consultant(s) will have the opportunity to help design the methodology and provide guidance on the feasibility of the timelines.

Indicative Methodology 

The study will ideally include the following phases:

  1. Inception Note: Co-designing a youth-friendly research methodology to guarantee higher-engagement of youth and a participation that is not extractive and reinforces negative power dynamics that youth groups usually experience. The CIVICUS Youth Action Team (YAT) will validate the proposed methodology, ensuring it asks the right questions in the best way, it complies with risk management practices and reaches the right people for the global survey, interviews and focus groups at the beginning and end of the project. The consultant will also check in periodically with CIVICUS’s research team during the phases of methodology design, data gathering and systematisation of findings.  

  2. Exploratory research: Desk analysis, reviewing relevant documents/literature. A desk research/literature review will be conducted, covering major civil society reports and academic articles of the past few years, with the aim of mapping youth activism across global regions and areas of civil society action and identifying main trends in organising and mobilising. CIVICUS’s Youth Action Team (YAT) has already reviewed over 60 reports from international CSOs and multilateral organisations covering dynamics of youth formal civic and political participation. The lead consultant will be provided with the material that has already been collected and will be asked to fill in the gaps and provide a summary document (between 10 and 20 pages) containing the main findings of the literature review. 

  3. Data gathering: Data will be gathered from secondary sources as well as primary sources. For the latter, the consultant will resort to interviews, surveys, focus groups, and other tools designed and validated with the YAT. The results will be summarised in an outline report identifying also the key questions and aspects to be covered during the consultation phase that could meaningfully complement the information already gathered. (Two focus groups and at least 30 virtual interviews with a representative sample of key stakeholders from youth-led groups/movements as part of the desk analysis.)

  4. Drafting a final document with findings, conclusions and recommendations, to be the main input for CIVICUS to launch its final report.


  • An Inception Note with a detailed description of methodology and work plan;
  • An outline report at the end of the desk research presenting key findings and further issues to be addressed during the consultation and related key stakeholders
  • A presentation to discuss with CIVICUS and YAT the preliminary findings, conclusions and recommendations from the desk study;
  • A bridged consultations report summarising and analysing the findings from the consultations
  • A consolidated document and executive summary (1 page) presenting findings, conclusions and recommendations, not exceeding 20 pages (excluding annexes);
  • A presentation of the final report and recommendations.

Required Education, Skills, and Experience


  • Degree in International relations, International Development, Social Sciences, Political Sciences, Public Policy, social, behavioural, or applied social sciences or another relevant field that includes course work focused on research methods (ideally both qualitative and quantitative), literature review, statistics, and data analysis. (Desired)
  • Field experience may substitute for an advanced degree. A degree/diploma with a focus on youth and social movements research would be valuable but is not a requirement.


  • Competent research and analytical skills 
  • Ability to communicate simply and clearly, with written and presentation skills in English. Knowledge of at least another UN language is required.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills and a proven ability to work in a multicultural setting and in teams with diversity of backgrounds and skills
  • Strong organisational skills and the ability to meet deadlines and to manage multiple tasks effectively and efficiently
  • Ability to independently plan and manage work processes
  • Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude
  • Advanced computer skills, with proficiency in using Microsoft Office suite applications, e.g. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (required)


  • Proven experience and track record of research and/or project management concerning civil society organising, human rights trends and development (required)
  • Demonstrated experience designing and conducting literature reviews (bibliographic database searches, review of articles, etc.) and/or research synthesis (systematic reviews) (required)
  • Proven experience in innovation and agile approach to research and consultations, conducting online mapping exercises, surveys, interviews, focus group discussions or consultations with governments, civil society actors, informal groups and youth collectives;
  • Experience writing reports on research studies (required)
  • 3-5 years of lived experience in youth development and youth civic participation, strategic planning, and analysis (required) Familiarity with youth-led social movements (desired)
  • Experience in the youth sector in the Global South (desired)
  • Experience using or knowledge of Microsoft’s SharePoint platform (desired)


The contract is expected to start on 1st July 2022. Every two weeks the consultant(s) will have a check-in meeting with the CIVICUS team to reflect on the progress made so far and challenges encountered. 


At CIVICUS our focus is simple: to strengthen civil society and citizen action around the world. Our global alliance of activists and organisations in 175 countries is inspired by our vision of a global community engaged in…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Part Time Schedule
  • Job Type
  • Start Date
    July 1, 2022
  • Application Deadline
    June 13, 2022
  • Education
    4-Year Degree Required
  • Experience Level

Level of Language Proficiency

Ability to communicate simply and clearly, with written and presentation skills in English. Knowledge of at least another UN language is required.

Ability to communicate simply and clearly, with written and presentation skills in English. Knowledge of at least another UN language is required.


Work may be performed anywhere in the world
Associated Location
Johannesburg, South Africa

How to Apply

Interested candidates can apply by 13 June 2022 by submitting a CV and short technical proposal (max 3000 words) to The proposal must elaborate on understanding of the assignment and propose a methodology accordingly. In addition, the proposal should include an estimation of working days and a budget indicating daily rates and any other cost deemed necessary.

To apply, please submit: 

  • A short technical proposal (max 3000 words) detailing what is your approach to achieve the described deliverables, your estimated costs,
  • A detailed CV; 
  • Contact details of three current references 
  • Link to portfolio of work

Young researchers from the Global South are encouraged to apply.

Please note that only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Should you not have heard from us within 2 weeks after your application, please consider your application as being unsuccessful. Thank you, in advance, for submitting your application!

Interested candidates can apply by 13 June 2022 by submitting a CV and short technical proposal (max 3000 words) to The proposal must elaborate on understanding…

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