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Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) is a non-profit working with the marginalised to empower them and help them access their rights. YUVA’s on-ground interventions are complemented with advocacy efforts and policy recommendations. Founded in Mumbai in 1984, currently YUVA is present at locations across Maharashtra, Assam and Jharkhand.

At the community-level, through an integrated 360-degree approach, YUVA works on issues of housing, livelihood, environment and governance. Through research, YUVA creates knowledge that enhances capacity building. Partnerships in campaigns help the organisation demonstrate solidarity and strengthen alliances to drive change.

YUVA’s journey through the years

YUVA’s journey began in the late 1970s, when a group of students of Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, Mumbai, ventured into the informal settlements of Jogeshwari in the city’s western suburbs, as part of a college placement. Their work in the community inspired them to draw up a full-fledged programme for underprivileged youth. The youth aimed to develop a rights-based approach to address structural inequalities and respond to the issues of the most poor and marginalised.

Working with the community in Jogeshwari

They believed that by helping people strength their rights awareness and by empowering them to access their rights, marginalised groups would be able to drive change, and in turn inspire others to join and lead further change efforts.

A few years later, on 30 August 1984, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA) was formally registered as a voluntary development organisation.

In the formative years, YUVA’s interventions aimed at community organisation and youth development. Gradually, YUVA began working on inter-related issues—of habitat, livelihood, gendered issues, rights for children and youth, and so on.

YUVA - One of the first large meetings with women

One of our early meetings with women leaders

With the New Economic Policy of 1991, YUVA developed the People’s Organisation and People’s Institution Model, catalysed the growth of collectives to address emerging socio-political and economic issues. Following the riots between Hindus and Muslims in 1991-92, YUVA’s work extended to address the divisive forces of religion, caste, etc.

With the Latur earthquake in 1993, our response mechanism extended to natural disasters too. Understanding that poverty could not be tackled solely in the urban areas, YUVA’s work extended to rural areas too, and urban–rural linkages were more deeply understood and worked on.

Since 2012, YUVA has been working on three core areas—Poverty, Environment and Governance. We aim to address multidimensional aspects of poverty in a holistic and integrated manner.

To know more about our journey of change, click here.