On Saturday 12th September at Whitehall, the Department for International Development hosted its second Youth Summit with Restless Development - and what a day it was! Youth For Change UK's Arifa was there as a speaker & panel host - she shares some of the highlights.
As a member of Youth For Change I was offered the opportunity of hosting a panel on the ‘Leave no one behind’ concept so I had get to DFID extra early in order to rehearse. Already there was a massive buzz pulsating through the building. The youth panel were zipping in and out through DFID staff, their loud orange t-shirts adding finishing touches.
When more people started to arrive, the real fun began. As one of the two UK youth delegates to the UN I was re-introduced to Secretary of State Justine Greening who I had met at the Youth For Change side event at Girl Summit 2014 (then as an attendee!) I had a chance to chat with the other incredible youth delegate Ronagh Craddock who would be accompanying me to New York and find out a bit more about her work with the Youth Climate Change Coalition.
Then approximately 300 young people packed into the marquee for the summit, which was hosted by Ronagh and fellow panel member Amro. Full of energy from start to finish, we heard from the likes of Justine Greening, Malala and Ban Ki Moon not to mention countless inspirational young people.
I was especially excited to be chairing a panel with such phenomenal youth activists. Anthony from Able Child Africa, Doreen fighting for gender equality, Kailee from War Child and a HIV activist all the way from Uganda certainly struck a note with me, and were joined by Baroness Verma who has been advocating for the Leave No One Behind principle. This panel was enhanced by the fact that those marching in solidarity with the refugees following the crisis in the Mediterranean were passing by at that exact moment. Their compassion added an energising touch to the moment, and created an excitable atmosphere in the marquee.
YouthForChange were also invited to host a workshop on FGM and CEFM. We were delighted to discover the workshop was so over subscribed that we had additional participants standing at the back just to take part. We began with an online quiz called a Kahoot! This created a friendly but competitive buzz in the room, which was followed by an activity on Goal 5 of the sustainable development goals.
The first of my two personal highlights would have to be hearing from Fahma Mohammed, the young FGM activist from Bristol, talk boldly about her passions and her advice for other young people. Her words resonated deeply, with not just myself, but every other young person in the room.
My second highlight was definitely the opportunity to give a closing address to the summit. I wanted to convey to the other young people that every space is our space. If something is not accessible we should make it accessible and that in New York, Ronagh and I would be representing THEM too. I also wanted to explain that these opportunities are available and achievable- if you put your mind to it. There is nothing we cannot achieve as young people. The only limits that exist are the ones we put on ourselves.
The Summit ended on an overwhelmingly positive note and it was a remarkable day that left me inspired to carry on. I hope this blog has give you a little flavour of what the youth summit was like!
Missed out on the action? You can find out even more about the event on the Youth Summit website - you can also check out this fantastic video which captures the day!