Five Youth Advocates will be attending next week’s 2017 UN General Assembly (UNGA), a crucial moment to influence global leaders in order to make sure Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are achieved. The advocates will kick-start their work on Monday by leading a high-level event to discuss how youth-led accountability is proving a key tool in the fight to achieve gender equality by 2030.
Stay tuned online
You can get updates from the Advocates by following #YouthPower and #UNGA2017 on Twitter. You can the side event - Youth-led accountability in the fight for Gender Equality - live on UN Web TV, Monday 18th September, 10:00 - 11:30 EST.
Restless Development, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations, are supporting this diverse, talented and experienced group of young people, who have all been leading on the monitoring and accountability of the Sustainable Development Goals in their local communities and with national governments.
Their expertise specifically is on gender-based issues, using data and activism to ensure that decision makers are held accountable for their promises to achieve gender equality by 2030. This is the message they will be taking with them to the UN General Assembly, that young people are collectively taking a leading role to ensure full gender equality is universally achieved.
Why is UNGA an important moment?
Two years have already passed since world leaders signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals, but there remains an urgent need to meaningfully include all young people in follow-up and review of these Goals to ensure that no one is left behind.
At the 2017 High-level Political Forum in July, more young people than ever were recognised for their role as agents of change both in formal and informal follow-up and review processes for the Sustainable Development Goals. We need to make sure this is recognised and acted on at this year's UNGA.
Gender equality is a key focus at this year's UNGA. Young women face particular barriers to participation, including time and mobility constraints, overcoming traditional role expectations, and participation programmes which focus on increased numbers of women and girls within programmes, rather than on transforming gender relations. The persistent data gap on young women, transgender and non-binary youth obscures their experiences and puts them at risk of being left behind. In order to fulfill the promise of the SDGs to leave no one behind, young people in all their diversity must be meaningfully included.
At this 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, we call on all governments to:
1. Meaningfully engage with young people as partners in follow-up and review for the SDGs to ensure that gender equality is achieved by 2030.
2. Explore more radical approaches to participation that focus on power and gender relations - such as co-ownership of programme design, crowdsourcing of legislation and accountability involving open data.
Meet this year's UNGA Youth Advocates:
Renaé Green, 26, Jamaica
Renaé is a 26-year-old woman of trans experience. She is a trans and youth advocate who currently works as a peer navigator for one of the largest NGOs in Jamaica, Jamaica Aids Support for Life. She has been working for over a year in the HIV and AIDS response, specifically as it relates to the trans population - the group with the highest prevalence for the virus. She is also the producer and co-host of Project Pan Centric which is currently an LGBT+ youth led YouTube vlog show. In Renae’s spare time she volunteers with organizations such as: Trans Wave, Equality for All Foundation, and Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN). She has been volunteering with JYAN for almost a year focusing on SRHR issues affecting youth living in Jamaica, and has experience of international advocacy when she represented Jamaica at the recent ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York last January.
Mariel Alonzo, 22, Philippines
Mariel is a co-founder and vice president of the Ateneo Libulan Circle, the pioneering LGBT+ organization of the Jesuit school Ateneo de Davao University, where she is also finishing up a degree in psychology. Currently, Mariel is also working on a project entitled Babaylan Books, which aims to publish LGBT+ empowering books specifically for children. Mariel was an ambassador against discrimination for the International Student Festival in Trondheim, a blogging intern for UNICEF - Voices of Youth, and a delegate for Amnesty International Philippine's anti-torture bootcamp. She has been involved in several progressive human rights projects, mobilizations, and conventions, such as the drafting of the agenda for women during Gabriela's National Convention which was forwarded to the executive branch of government.
Mariel is also an awarded poet published in 10 countries and a budding filmmaker, with her work expanding themes of social realities.
Kamal Gautam, 25, Nepal
Kamal is a graduate in public health and a human rights activist. His professional experience includes working on issues of gender-based violence, young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexuality education, meaningful and inclusive youth participation and its advocacy. Currently, he is working as a national coordinator of Right Here Right Now Nepal which advocates for the protection, respect and fulfilment of young people’s SRHR that is inclusive, including girls, young women and young lesbians, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI). Earlier, he worked as SRH program officer at International Medical Corps, SRHR program coordinator at YUWA, Global Youth ambassador at A World at School, and a council member of Youth Activists Leadership Council. He has a keen interest and experience in national, regional and international advocacy for young people’s SRHR.
Yeabsira Bogale, 28, Ethiopia
Yeabsira is the executive director of Consortium of Youth Development Organizations in Ethiopia (COYDOE). She has obtained a BA in Economics from Arba Minch University and is one of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Public Health Institute’s Youth Champions. Through the Youth Champions Initiative (YCI), she currently heads her award pilot project, Gamification in SRHR, aimed at contributing to the promotion of SRHR among adolescents and youth in Ethiopia through piloting the strategy of gamification. She is also one of the Sustainable Development Goal champions of the United Nations and World Merit, representing SDG 17 - partnerships for the goals.
Richard Dzikunu, 26, Ghana
Richard is a youth activist primarily concerned with open development, transparency, accountability and its important intersections with youth employment, education, health, human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment. Richard is also part of the Restless Development Accountability Advocates - a group of 20 young experts from youth-led community-based organizations in Africa and Europe - which aims to design and implement a national monitoring framework to hold government accountable in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Now studying an M.A. in development communication, he hopes to work in the development cooperation sector and thereby contribute to innovative policies.