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Youth participation can be viewed as a means to an end or as an end in itself. UNICEF and other organizations emphasize youth participation as a basic right. If a program is designed to benefit young people, they should have input and involvement into how it is developed and administered. Others see youth participation as a means of helping to achieve program goals for youth or communities. To assess this goal, researchers seek evidence that involving youth in programs can lead to stronger program outcomes. In the reproductive health and HIV/AIDS fields, the goal is to show that increased youth participation can help lead to such outcomes as improved knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors. Many analysts see both points of view as important. While a rights-based approach is the underpinning of youth participation, youth involvement should also achieve improved program results in order to justify staff time and financial resources.

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