Change. Global leaders galvanize nations in pursuit of it, advocates demand that policymakers facilitate it, and I’d suggest that we all strive to be a part of it. As the saying goes, change is “easier said than done.” But young people don’t seem to see it that way. Not only are young people calling for social, political and economic change, but they are being the change.
Today’s generation of young people is the largest the world has ever seen. In fact, over half the world’s population is under the age of 30. To some, this number may seem daunting – but the way I see it, that’s more than 3.5 billion young people representing 3.5 billion opportunities for change.
We know that when you invest in young people – particularly in girls – the returns are tremendous. Girls with access to education and health care, including youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and services, are more likely to marry later and, once mothers, are more likely to send their children to school and provide them with health care.
And the impact flows beyond families and communities: By enrolling just 10% more girls in school, a country can increase its gross domestic product by approximately 3%. In short, when you invest in girls there are ripple effects throughout society – and everybody wins.
When Laila returned home from school in rural Yemen, she did not expect what her father, Nasser, had in store for her: a husband, a much older husband.
A year and two days ago today, a teenage girl was riding the school bus in northern Pakistan. Suddenly, a Taliban gunman got on the bus. He shot her. She almost died.
Female students from the University of Laos during a Library Week event on campus.
It’s not great to be young, said Chris Colfer, a 23-year-old American actor, singer, and author to Esquire magazine for their The Life of Man project.
It’s hard to disagree with Colfer. Youth are usually considered reckless, restless, and aimless. But in recent years things have changed. The change seemed more apparent last Sunday at the Social Good Summit, an annual event that celebrates technology and social action.
For Somali girl Halima Mohmoud, 11, a dream came true recently. She is now enrolled in school despite the hardships she and her family go through every day.
The World Bank is the largest international funder of education.
Education is one of the most important tools young people need to get good jobs. That’s why the Bank works with national governments, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, and other partners in developing countries to ensure everyone has access to education.
- international development
- Biodiversity Conservation
- Children & Youth
- end poverty
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Global Economy
- Climate Change
- The World Region
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Europe and Central Asia
- East Asia and Pacific
Young woman working on a computer. Tunis, Tunisia. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank
“Girls programming isn’t just a cool thing; it’s also doubling the chances of developing innovative tools and making the world a better place for everyone.” These words are from my friend Julie, who has been working as a web developer for the last four years. She has also been involved in a few volunteer programs in Africa, mainly to train young women on IT tools.
"Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” said Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head on her way back from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley last October.
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” she continued from the podium at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on July 12, her 16th birthday. July 12 — “Malala Day” — will now be marked and celebrated by citizens worldwide, a day where people can advocate for education and girls’ empowerment.
If you missed Malala’s speech at the UN, you can watch the full video below.