Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. That’s the conventional belief.
Today, after listening to some amazing young people speak about their lives at Thursday’s End Poverty event at the World Bank, I’m convinced that opportunities are omnipresent.
These youth have one thing in common: They all want to take on poverty and want everyone else to join them. For the first time in history, we can end extreme poverty, and we can do it by 2030. It’s the right thing to do.
Confucius, a Chinese philosopher who lived in the fifth century B.C., said that when we are faced with what’s right, “to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.” Today, four inspiring youth leaders were at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C. to do what is right by helping to launch a global movement to end extreme poverty by 2030.
One of them, Chernor Bah, was born during a civil war in the slums of Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone. Access to basic needs such as food was a privilege for him. His mom’s resilience helped him get education, he passionately told an energetic, youthful crowd. When he grew up he took it upon himself to mobilize young people to help increase access to education. Today he serves as the chairman of the Youth Advocacy Group for the Global Education First Initiative. Its goal is “to accelerate progress towards the Education for All goals and the education-related Millennium Development Goals.”
Percentage of youth who said they want their government to be more open. Source: Global Opening Government Survey
Last fall, I had the honor of speaking to participants at the 13th Melaka International Youth Dialogue, which focused on youth migration. I spoke about general trends of youth migration and the increasing number of young people who move within and across countries and regions, a situation that is influencing the human development of young people either positively or negatively.
One of democracy’s basic principles is to hold regular, free and fair elections. Elections ensure that the governing remains accountable to the governed. The right to vote is another defining characteristic of democracy. The hard-fought expansion of suffrage in established democracies in the 20th century led to the steady decline of the voting age, thus extending the right to vote to the world’s youth.
Even though it was windy and dark outside, Vivien Suerte-Cortez was smiling and full of energy on the stage. Suerte-Cortez is an accountability and transparency expert from the Philippines. Dressed in her gray jacket, she started to talk about Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA), a project in the Philippines that encourages citizens to participate in the audit process for government projects and explores how to ensure efficient use of public resources by the government.
So you think the last thing young people want to discuss is politics or business strategy? Think again.
As a young woman actively involved and passionate about the role of youth in civil society, I was interested when the World Bank brought together youth from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan to talk about exactly that.
Just before noon yesterday, a young African woman asked panelists about what can be done to ensure students in Africa have more access to electricity so they can work on their homework at night.