“No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.” – Kofi Annan
Dawn breaks in Busan, South Korea – and as the sun rays creep between dense clouds above us 49 young brilliant minds all over the world discuss their countries’ politics and economic relations.
From Pakistan, Chile, Mexico and Nigeria – youth leaders spoke on highly familiar democratic political systems which seemed too familiar: a lack on youth inclusivity and democracy focused primarily on free and fair elections without the focus on government accountability and citizen participation.
Young people in particular struggle to raise their voices and opinions when it comes to dialogue on structured development. However, this has created innovative implementations from the very youth that desire to see a positive change.
In realization that politics is personal, Shifting young leaders around the world have taken change making into their hands, creating rippling positive impacts in their societies particularly through apolitical structures, social entrepreneurship and social media engagement.
A few of these young leaders include Sainabou Nyang of Gambia, who aims to create gender parity in her region through her NGO Think Young Women. As the admin officer, Nyang is involved in a mentorship program that creates a safe space for young women to discuss issues that are considered taboo in the society. She further battles the fight against violence among women and girls in terms of harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation of which 76% of women in Gambia are subjected to.
Also a youth advocate for the protection and empowerment of women is Cameroonian Ntui Oben Obi AgborA founder of Actions for Change Cameroon, Ntui believed that youth bear capacity to empower fellow young people. He further immersed his intellect in Les Nanas Awards,under the Association Rayons Des Soleil and sponsored by the US Embassy in Cameroon. Serving in the South West and North West Regional Coordinator of the award, he has mentored over 20 young girls who have received awards on a national level.
In a nutshell, becoming an advocate and decreasing inequalities shows passion, hard work and dedication.
Young leaders in structures outside of traditional political systems have proven the ability to incite change through action, critical thought and empowerment. It lies on the responsibility of young people to shape and re-imagine our future.
Photocourtesy: Kwang Bin Song