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Young People and Work in the Global South

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Nebojša Radić .

Barbara worked eight years with the NHS where she was Regional Director for the South East of England. She was also the founding Director of the NHS Modernisation Agency. Barbara was Chief Executive of Oxfam from May 2001 until February 2013. During this time she led major humanitarian responses. In March 2015, Barbara was appointed Chair of the Independent Panel of Experts to assess WHO ’s response in the Ebola outbreak.


The percentage of young people in populations in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia has increased dramatically. In Uganda, for example, 65% of people are under 25. This can either be a demographic “dividend” for a country or a critical challenge. If there are no jobs for these young people it is not only a waste of human talent and energy but it can also cause conflicts or huge migration challenges. While there have been attempts to develop jobs, this global challenge has not really been focused on. Efforts have been piecemeal and have not involved young people themselves.

Work on this topic is taking place in Cambridge in Geography and Sociology particularly, with a view to establishing an International Commission. Meanwhile we have been engaged with work on the ground involving NGOs like Restless Development to learn what young people today think about their lives, current ways of “getting by” and their futures. These include a research study in Uganda on the effects of climate change on youth and work. In this seminar I will focus particularly on what young people say about their lives and work as well as some of the specific effects of climate change. Barbara was President of Murray Edwards College from July 2013 to September 2021.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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