Young people should be at the forefront of international development. The passion, dedication and commitment to creating social change demonstrated by young individuals and youth organisations reminds us how much we can achieve when given the right opportunity.
Recently I began my term as Youth Mayor of my borough. This role allows me to interact with key decision makers, highlighting issues faced by young people in my local community. In my debut speech, I highlighted the importance of youth engagement in decision making. I hope I can continue to use this platform to highlight issues, such as gender based violence, hoping to establish a voice for young people.
The Plan International UK Youth Action Festival was exemplary of the attitudes young people have towards global development. Having had the privilege to attend this year, I learnt about the dangers facing young women and felt inspired knowing young people were leading the global initiative to tackle gender based violence.
I also attended Youth For Change’s ‘National Schools Conference on “Honour”-Based Violence’ on this day I was privileged to hear survivors of FGM and their incredible stories. These incredible women experienced many difficulties, but used their renowned platforms to educate and inspire others. It was a pleasure to be in workshops, focused on campaigning and gender based violence, that were led by young people; reiterating the power of youth engagement.
I learnt that gender based violence was not exclusive to physical or domestic abuse. It can involve intellectual abuse, not allowing young women to engage in intellectual development. Gender based violence is prominent in education, as it is estimated that 65 millions girls are not attending school because of their gender, and because of social roles enforced on them.
The right to education is a fundamental human right, it allows us to express ourselves and forms the essential foundation of global development. Unfortunately, for many women across the globe, this right is ignored and they are being denied the opportunity to receive basic education. This is why organisations like Youth For Change are so important, they challenge cultural norms and demand that all women receive the right to education.
The concept that all women, from across the globe, should flourish and benefit from education should be a universal standard; not an achievable statistic. Access to education is easier to obtain in the UK, compared to developing countries abroad, but young women in the UK still face many challenges.
Having lived in Nottingham my entire life, I was disappointed when Nottingham was named as one of the worst places in England and Wales to be a girl; ranking 4th overall. This result, conducted from a Plan International UK report, considers factors such as poverty, education, life expectancy and employability prospects. The report also emphasised that local councils should be doing more to establish youth development. Young people have been proactive and have been crucial in ensuring that girls succeed in all aspects of life, no matter their financial or social background.
To ensure that young people from across the globe are able to voice their concerns, we must challenge the stigma surrounding gender based violence. I firmly believe that young people are essential in decision making, their voices and opinions vital in tackling difficult situations.