Improving Life for Mongolian Youth

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, independent Mongolia faces several political and economic challenges. A youth NGO named the Mongolian Youth Federation helps support the rights and interests of Mongolian youngsters.


Mongolian Youth Federation logo.

Mongolia has been in the midst of an important transition since the end of the Soviet Union in 1990. Creating a market-based economy that balances economic realities with social needs has been one of the greatest challenges facing the country. Some of these challenges include the pressure on rural herders to move to urban areas, the increasingly visible role of corruption, and the economic opportunities and challenges posed by world-class copper and gold mining operations.

While these issues affect everyone in the country, youth in particular are negatively impacted. In the employment sector, youth cannot be hired for jobs in the mines because their skills either do not match the technical knowledge required or they lack employment experience. It is also difficult for young people to secure housing for their families, since banks hesitate to give loans to unemployed people.

As a result, banks often charge extremely high interest rates that prevent families from securing safe, heated housing during Mongolia’s notoriously frigid winters. These concerns also make Mongolian youth more vulnerable to alcoholism: men between the ages of 15 and 19 are the heaviest drinkers in the country. In addition, the increasing prevalence of corruption in the political environment as well as on a smaller scale prevents the creation of programs to effectively address these problems.

Mongolian and international organizations are stepping in to help Mongolian youth

While there are many organizations involved in Mongolia (it is one of the most dependent countries on foreign aid in the world), some of the most effective are those that have arisen from the former socialist organizations. The Mongolian Youth Federation has instituted programs to address youth’s main problems.

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On January 18, 1991, The Mongolian Youth Federation arose from the Mongolian Revolutionary Youth Union that was founded on August 25, 1921, but has adapted to support youth in the market environment. Their Youth Labor Exchange began to discuss the gap in youth ability and the skills required by employers by creating internship opportunities and partnerships with organizations that could provide training. A more recent project aims to prevent the kind of bank extortion and corruption that raises the cost of housing loans. Other projects, like “Spirits or Sports?” organizes alternative recreational activities that provide youth with opportunities to socialize in a way that is beneficial to their health.

The Mongolian Youth Federation also impacts larger policy decisions within Mongolia to support youth. They established a parliamentary lobby group to represent youth interests within the main legislative body. As the Mongolian Youth Federation develops projects in response to the needs of young people, the lobby helps secure funding.

As an example, the Federation started an anti-corruption campaign in 2013 that included a survey of corruption in the capital Ulaanbaatar, distribution of information about how to identify corruption, and a pledge from politicians and citizens to fight corruption. All of these projects help Mongolian youth thrive despite the challenges of development.

The Mongolian Youth Federation is a national non-governmental organization of youth which organizes a range of activities with the ultimate aim at providing support and help in protecting common rights and interests of Mongolian youngsters.