How To Build Self Confidence Among the Youth (particularly among young women)


By Alberta A.G.S. Richelieu

We have entered the age of a global knowledge economy, characterized by increased interconnectedness, high technology, huge amounts of information and quick changes. This new, interconnected world will have a tremendous impact on the 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 (accounting for one out of every six people worldwide). These youth are in a critical stage of their lives where they need to acquire the skills to succeed in a globalized economy, but many, especially girls and young women, face towering obstacles preventing them from moving down the path of success.

One universally accessible tool that allows the youth to succeed is self-confidence. Self-confidence plays a pivotal role in youth development. It inspires young people to believe in their capabilities and as such, dream bigger and aspire towards a greater life. Three key skills that allow youth to develop self-confidence are managerial skills, critical thinking skills, and debating skills. 

Leadership roles build managerial skills. Such skills include effective time management, coordination, effective organizational skills, building of morale as well as the power to effect change and motivate individuals. While effecting coordination among groups of individuals, leadership also promotes personal development such as effective communication skills, active management of one’s everyday life and the ability to easily transfer skills across a range of expert fields and industries. 

Critical Thinking skills promote the development of higher thinking skills through reasoning, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, application and most importantly, creativity. These high level thinking skills aid in promoting individuals who not only excel academically but also socially as well. Socially, a higher level of thinking skills aid in the development of relationships, better communication and higher levels of tolerance. Moreover, it can be used in a wide variety of real life situations and as such, as it entails the requirement of effective communication and analysis. Critical thinking skills can be developed via several avenues including debating, effective conversation, argumentative writing as well as through social interaction with individuals from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. 

Debating is one way to foster critical thinking, as it allows for a greater appreciation for a wide range of perspectives as well as the understanding and processing of another side’s perspective, in a rational manner which enables one to deal with day to day situations. Reasoning, rational decision-making and empathy for other points of view, all crucial factors in debating. 

The new economy demands highly flexible skills as well as an ability to transfer knowledge, analyze information and integrate knowledge from a wide range of information sources. Effective critical thinking skills promote such thinking and consequently are vital for the modern day fast pace work place. 

As self confidence plays a central role in one’s aspirations, leadership skills, critical thinking skills including debating skills all foster self confidence and creativity. Self-confidence transcends in an awareness of new possibilities including gainful employment. With the awareness of new possibilities, this can be crucial in the economic development of Small Island Developing States such as Saint Lucia. 

Constituting almost fifty percent of the population of Saint Lucia and worldwide, women are central actors in moving towards sustainability. Hence, it is important that self-confidence is instilled in women, particularly women from developing nations such as Saint Lucia since they play a central role in the decision making of families. 

In conclusion, as noted by Michelle Bachelet, former Under-Secretary-General and former Executive Director of UN Women, “When women are empowered and can claim their rights and access to land, leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.” For developing countries, where women tend to limit their career possibilities, it is paramount that self-confidence is fostered in youth and more particularly, in women. One of the many ways to do this is via promotion of leadership and critical thinking skills. 

My name is Alberta  Richelieu and I am writing a column on youth engagement, entrepreneurship, and career enhancing life skills for the Aspire Artemis Foundation. I will be highlighting the authentic experiences of youth from underserved communities starting with those from my own region.

Hermina Johnny