As I was getting ready to speak at Tuesday’s Congressional briefing—Global Youth: A Strategic Investment—in a small café in downtown Washington, it was clear to me why the U.S. government needs to see globalization as an opportunity. The busboys were on break. They were all from Central America, all with ipods, all excitedly discussing in Spanish how much they loved Bon Jovi. They were exactly the kind of young people the briefing was hoping that Congress would address, their energy was exactly what the United States should draw on as we face a world that is younger, poorer, and ever more connected.
The briefing, sponsored by 12 diverse global organizations, was focusing on what the U.S. can do to support young people’s health and wellbeing. Two common threads ran through all the presentations. Young people in every country of the world are connecting with one another in many more ways than ever before and they are setting the agenda. The two younger speakers, Andre from Jamaica and Ishita from India, were unequivocal. While young people have a range of issues of importance to their lives—their sexuality, health and wellbeing are at the heart. From home base, they are already influencing policy and program decisions in their own countries and fueling advocacy by young people. They are forces to be reckoned with and if we support their sexual and reproductive rights and health, we, the United States, will have incredibly powerful allies.
Read my full remarks from the briefing here.
Beth Fredrick is the Executive Vice President at the International Women’s Health Coalition. Read her full bio here.