“I feel empowered creating a safe space for young people, just to be treated with dignity and without much labeling about your sexual orientation, your health condition, the choice of work you are choosing, or belief you are practicing.”
-Rachel Arinii Judhistari, 22, the youngest ever program officer for the Asian-Pacific Research and Resource Center for Women (ARROW)
Thursday August 12th marks International Youth Day, and we here at IWHC couldn’t be more excited to mark this special occasion. Our staff and partners have been working tirelessly to ensure meaningful youth participation and to amplify the voices of young people at the local, regional, and international levels. It’s rewarding and encouraging when we hear this collective work is worth something to the powers that be.
We’re additionally happy because the day presents an important opportunity for members of the UN and the international community to demonstrate, refine, and restore their commitment to young people.
Earlier this year we held IWHC’s first annual Young Visionaries contest as a means to celebrate, acknowledge, and support the exceptional and ongoing work of young people. Our Young Visionaries contest encouraged youth from all over the world to share their visions for young people and the future.
As part of this initiative, youth nominees were asked the question: “If you could tell world leaders one thing, what would it be?”
We’ve included some of their answers below, in the hopes that this International Youth Day, world leaders will heed the advice of these important and inspiring youth activists:
“…We need… to build environments, concrete policies and opportunities wherein young people’s voices are heard and where rights are respected.”
–Ador Leanda Hurtado, Phillipines
“Investing early in health and education for young women empowers them to provide a healthy future for their families and for themselves.”
– Anina Hewey and Amelia Graves, United States
“Youth are the leaders of today. They (leaders) should make the environment conducive and safe for realization of our dreams and capability.”
–Felistah Mbithe Ngui, Kenya
“Involve your young people in the processes of change; listen to them & enfranchise young people to take an active role in shaping their own futures. Don’t dismiss the experiences and opinions of young people solely on the basis of their youth.”
–Felix Scholz, Australia
“Only young people can be the change makers!’
–Fsahat Ul Hassan, Pakistan
“Value the work of those who are working to build a different world.”
–Kalindy Bolivar, Ecuador
To read more about IWHC’s work on youth health and rights around the world, click here.