Today, the world has more young people than ever: half of the world’s population is under 30, and it is estimated that 10 billion people will be born this century. While young people are — and have the potential to be — agents of change, they are not yet taking meaningful part in decision-making processes at local, national, and international levels in a way that reflects their growing role in societies across the world.
That’s not to say that young people are not taking bold action. They are leading and driving social movements everywhere. In the past two years, young people have shown their power and agency in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic spillover effects. They have taken to the streets and social media to demand that world leaders take action to stop climate change. They have led Black Lives Matter actions across the globe to protest systemic police brutality and racially-motivated violence against Black people. They have led youth mobilizations on the margins of the 26th UN Climate Conference (COP 26), calling on world leaders to take ambitious action to tackle climate change.
The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies believes that a vibrant and empowered generation of young leaders is vital to ensure that societies are able to overcome current and future challenges. In an effort to raise the visibility, voice, and leadership of young people across the Pathfinders, we are launching the Pathfinders Trailblazers.
We are committed to working with young people blazing trails for a more peaceful, just, and inclusive world. The Pathfinders Trailblazers aims to:
- Amplify the voices and leadership of young people from diverse backgrounds.
- Address specific calls to action made in Our Common Agenda as it relates to the needs and priorities of young people, such as quality education, voice, and participation, as well as sustainable jobs.
- Promote a youth-centered recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term programmatic and financial investments in their future.
- Propel movements for change by supporting youth-led and youth-focused networks and movements at all levels to shift policy and public demand for peace, justice, and inclusion.
- Prepare for key summits and moments, ensuring that young voices are fully represented and engaged in preparations and events.
In 2022, we plan to listen and engage with young people by:
- Identifying youth-led solutions to violence prevention and reduction through the Halving Global Violence Task Force. A workshop with an expanded group of young leaders, including Task Force members Hajer Sharief and Ilwad Elman, is being contemplated to discuss youth-led and inspired solutions to tackle all kinds of violence.
- Launching the Young Justice Leaders coalition to provide a space for young leaders to engage in and contribute to international dialogue and research around justice. The platform will influence the 2023 SDG Summit to prioritize justice for all, develop advocacy campaigns, and contribute to the country-led Justice Action Coalition work to advance people-centered justice data, innovation, and campaigns to prioritize justice for women and children.
- Engaging young people in in-country and regional dialogues to understand their concerns about inequalities, policy priorities, and desire for change, as outlined in our 2021 flagship report. The findings and inputs will feed into the formation of a high-level action platform in September 2022.
Today the Pathfinders are publicly launching our commitment to work with young leaders to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies during the Space Transformers Live 2021. This event is a digital experience produced by Peace One Day giving a voice to young changemakers, thinkers, and innovators who are working towards a more peaceful and sustainable world. The event will feature our first Trailblazing young leaders: Kasha Sequoia Slavner and Amoding Agnes Cynthia.
Kasha is a Gen-Z documentary filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. For over a decade, and from a very young age, Kasha has been a photographer, entrepreneur, social justice advocate, writer, public speaker, and contributor to several publications, including National Geographic Learning.
Following her passion for visual storytelling to inspire people to create positive change, she founded The Global Sunrise Project. At 16, she traveled the world for six months to make her feature and multi-award-winning documentary The Sunrise Storyteller. She directed, filmed, scripted, and edited it. As a social justice advocate, she is one of the Voices of SDG16+, 2021 Climate Ambassador of the Global Youth Climate Network, and alumni of various initiatives such as the Global Changemakers, WE Social Enterprise, and many more. She is currently working on 1.5 Degrees of Peace, a documentary to inspire a unified movement for peace and climate justice.
“Young people are courageously showing up and standing together to create a better world.” – Kasha Sequoia Slavner, Documentary Filmmaker
Amoding Agnes Cynthia is a feminist and social justice activist based in Kampala, Uganda. She is a final year student of Law at Makerere University and a United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow invited by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to advise on his “Our Common Agenda Initiative”.
Following her passion for social justice and gender equality, Cynthia is leading various social and justice community give-back activities in Uganda such as the COVID Relief Pads Campaign, the End Teenage Pregnancy Campaign, and many others. She is also an advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights and has worked with various legal aid service providers organizations to ensure that less privileged people can access justice. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of a youth-led organization called Focus on The African Child aimed at Improving the livelihood of the African child. She is the former Guild Representative Councillor for Students with Disabilities at Makerere University in the 85th Guild.
Cynthia announced the Pathfinders Young Justice Leaders initiative in November 2021, a forthcoming group of young champions for justice working to create change ranging from grassroots to systemic to achieve justice for all.
“Inclusion of young people must be meaningful. Young people must be the designers of the future they want” – Amoding Agnes Cynthia, Feminist leader, UN Foundation NextGen Fellow
The event will also include two young leaders invited by the Pathfinders who will speak in two panels:
- Aya-Maria Rouhana for the Anti-Racism panel. Aya-Maria is an economics student and human rights advocate from Lebanon. Like Cynthia, she has been nominated and appointed as a United Nations Foundation Next Generation Fellow. She has also worked with Restless Development and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Youth at Heart project, tackling the future of education and work in the Middle East and Africa.
- Marcelo Rocha for the Climate Action panel. Marcelo is the Executive Director of Ayika Institute. He is a photographer and an education, blackness, and climate justice activist at Fridays For Future Brasil and FFF MAPA (Most Affected Peoples and Areas).
In his report, Our Common Agenda, the UN Secretary-General made a clear call to world leaders, international organizations, the United Nations, and other key actors, to think for the long term and deliver for young people and future generations on today’s challenges, in order to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. It’s young people’s experience and needs that must inform the decisions that will create the societies of tomorrow.