The term “Young Changemakers” usually refers to the youth between the ages of 15-24 who are actively involved in making a drastic change in this world. As youngsters, they aspire to make some change in the world in which they live in by gathering resources and knowledge from various means. This can either be a political, economic or social change.
Normally, a nation is built by human intellectuals. A nation cannot survive without the collective efforts of all the citizens in a country. From among all these citizens, the young crowd has a pivotal role to play in taking a nation forward towards a brighter future. In other words, the youth are lifeblood of any country. According to my point of view, whether young or old, skilled or unskilled, everyone’s support is essential for a nation to thrive. In this regard, it is mostly the youth who should play a crucial role in making a long lasting impact to the entire world. Their commitment, determination, contribution is of paramount importance for the sustainable development of a country. The saying that “young people are the agents of change” clearly emphasizes the fact that they are the ones who should take the lead at the fore front of any national exercise because unlike the older people whose health is deteoriating, the youngsters are strong, active and mentally fit to carry out any task. Hence, young force is extremely important to build a better world
The United Nations Organization (UNO) defines the term “youth” as anyone between 15 -24 years of age. My idea is that youth is the best time of one’s life. It is the phase when a person is independent. Unlike childhood, now they have the right to take decisions on their own, stand for their rights, voice their problems, and sort out the good from bad. During youthhood, a man or a woman is powerful, ambitious and has a clear mindset with a good vision. But their power can be used for both good and bad purposes. For instance, when there is a war going on in a country, it is mostly the young individuals who go the battlefield to shed blood on behalf of their motherland. They are strong enough to fight .It is clear that the youth play a critical role not only in developing the nation but also safeguarding it for the future generations. On the other hand; it is mainly the young ones who commit offences likeassaults, robbery, cyber bullying, possession of heroin, traffic violations etc…This is mainly because they have a good brain and are exposed to modern technology. In such instances, the government must also play a major role to prevent them from being neglected and committing offences. Inculcation of a good vision and mission in them without letting them going in the wrong direction will make them more productive individuals who will ultimately make a long lasting change not only to his or her own country but also to the entire planet. If directed to a correct path with good attitudes, thoughts, they will undoubtedly pave the way for a sustainable future.
According to the data collected by the UNO, there were around 1.2 billion of young people in 2019.When taken as a percentage, 16% of the world population makes up the young population. It is estimated that in 2065, the world’s youth population is expected to rise up to 1.4 billion. This is rather happy news because more youngsters in the world means there is a higher tendency to drive nations for a favorable future while ensuring growth in the societies they live.
What is meant by sustainable development goals (SDGS)? The SDGS are the 17 goals which were adopted by the UNO member countries in 2015 with the objective of alleviating poverty, conserving our planet earth and ensuring that each person who lives in any nook and corner of the world enjoys peace and harmony irrespective of class differences, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity. As far as the Agenda is concerned, the youth involvement is extremely important in order to reach the 17 goals by 2030. In other words, we as the youth have a vital role to play in transforming the world into a sustainable development path in due course. These 17 goals can be listed as
- Ending poverty everywhere in the world.
- Improving the living standard of people while ensuring that everyone leads a healthy lifestyle.
- Ensuring access to affordable, sustainable modern energy for all.
- Build flexible infrastructure while promoting sustainable industrialization.
- Reducing inequality in countries
- Ensuring sustainable production patterns
- Combating climate change and its impacts.
- Protecting and promoting world’sterrestrial ecosystems, combating desertification, loss of biodiversity and land degradation.
- Ensuring access to justice for all while building effective institutions.
- Conserve the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable future.
- Ensuring cities, human settlements are safe, flexible and sustainable.
- Promoting a sustainable economic growth.
- Ensuring availability of clean water and sanitation for all.
- Ending hunger while ensuring food security.
- Ensuring quality education and learning opportunities for all.
- Ensuring gender equality while empowering young girls.
- Strengthening the means of implementation
It should be noted that the UNO creates a huge platform for young people’s ideas and needs in all its forms. They ensure young people are engaged, empowered and mobilized. They work closely with the youth to engage them in SDG which ultimately supports the UN’s advocacy efforts to prepare and organize the young people for active services. For example, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Srilanka with the assistance of EU provided an Entrepreneurship Development Training Programme for development officers of Divisional secretariats in areas like Vavniya, Mannarand Batticola. This training made these development officers to hold workshops about business development knowledge for 40,000 individuals who live in areas affected by war. As a result, these development officers could select suitable people for the youth led programme. This programme was able to train and mentor young entrepreneurs.
It is clear that with the support of different youth organizations and NGOs, the young people can make a positive change in the world they live in.Examples for some youth associations include Solidarity Youth Movement, Youth United, World youth Alliance. Youth organizations are normally controlled by the youth .They are considered as voluntary non-governmental associations. The main objective of these organizations is promoting young people’s social rights while encouraging their social participation at any cause.
The youth can do a tremendous service to the country in which they live either via these associations or individually. For example, youth volunteering has become a common programme over the past years. Volunteering is not only useful to get a certain experience for a CV but also to make an unprecedented change to the society that they live in. When discussed in detail, the young people can join a project on conserving animals like turtles, elephants. This includes rehabilitating injured adults, operating hatcheries, assisting hatchlings on their journey to sea. They all come under volunteering work. In some instances, volunteers have to contribute financially in order to treat the animals. When it comes to elephants, volunteering work consists of feeding, bathing and walking. For instance, young children in Srilanka can volunteer at Udawalawa elephant transit home and Pinnawala elephant orphanage by getting actively involved in rehabilitation of both young juveniles and adult elephants that become injured or orphaned due to various reasons. PrimateConservation is yet another important step forward to conserve the threatened species. As young people, we can get together and raise awareness by holding workshops to the general public, posting updates and clips on social media. Moreover, lions which are commonly found in Africa are now dwindling due to habitat loss and conflict with humans.Volunteering to save these magnificent creatures include assisting park rangers, researching lion behavior, performing educational programmes in schools on conservation. Apart from that, the young individuals mainly living in urban areas can get together and form teams. These teams can raise funds for a worthy cause by organizing a car wash, hosting a youth charity auction or a crowd funding campaign. We all know eradication of poverty falls top in the list of sustainable development goals. The money collected from these events can then be utilized for meritorious activities such as donating rations especially for the poor during a disaster (eg:flood),helping the cancer patients, constructing houses for poor families, conducting a free medical clinic in rural towns. Distribution of e-books, educational CDs, internet ready mobile devices to remote villages can also be done in whichthe young children would ultimately turn into mobile libraries full of knowledge. Another instance in which youth involvement is necessary is when it comes to wellbeing of communities. Improving living standard of rural people is something that young children should think of.Yet most of us are still unaware that millions of people depend upon crops, livestock and water sources.We can voluntarily take part in landscape sustainability schemes (projects based on sustainable farming practices).A yeoman service can be done by the young force to enrichthe daily life of local communities by
- Planting seeds, harvesting,
- Assisting researchers in their work.
- Maintaining and developing the genetic seed bank
- Setting up nurseries
In this way, we can improve sustainable agro ecosystems, forestry and tropical agriculture. According to my perspective, youth should play a major role when it comes to green technology. Some people are lucky enough to reap the benefits of the 21st century while some are not. In remote towns, people suffer many hardships due to the unavailability of modern technology. As volunteers, the entire youth crowd can get together and join renewable energy schemes. They can visit less developed villages and introduce renewable energy devices like solar panels, solar water distillers. They can also raise funds to design more renewable energy solutions and introduce them to villagers. In addition to that, dog rescue projects can be carried out as stray dogs pose a threat to human beings especially in India, Srilanka. The young crowd can collectively take decisions to eradicate the stray dog menace by creating a separate center to take care of the injured, stray dogs while also sterilizing them to prevent further breeding. We as the change makers of the world should also do something to protect the environment that we live in by taking part in the following useful tasks
- Beach cleanup projects/ environmental cleanings island wide.
- Planting more trees which would help curb global warming, soil erosion.
- Revegetation(replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed lands by supplying seeds and necessary fertilizers)
- Restoration of the ecology (restoring the damaged ecosystems and habitats)to prevent habitat loss for animals.
Everybody knows that global warming is a serious issue faced by the people today. Combating climate change is one of the goals listed under Sustainable Development goals. Thereby as youth, we should support UN’s advocacy efforts to prepare and mobilize young guys and gals for active services. Then only we can reach the SDG by 2030.Youth Activism which is increasing in the world over is important at this juncture. One of the best examples which support youth engagement in community for a social change is Greta Thunberg’s involvement to tackle climate change. She, as a 17 year old young girl has set an example for the whole world. She even protested in front of the Swedish parliament urging the government to meet carbon emissions. In order to cause minimum harm to the environment, she travelled by train to give her support to various strikes.
“I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel fear, I feel
everyday.I want you to act in a crisis. I want you to act like your house is on
Greta can be considered as a social activist and a critical thinker. Another young activist is Malala Yousafl of Pakistan who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. In 2012, she raised her voice on behalf of the girl child to study. She continued to battle until every girl child should go to school because every child has the right for education irrespective of what the gender is. She established the Malala fund in 2014 with the aim of paving the way for any girl who aspires to pursue their goals. Yet, there are so many examples for youth who had taken the lead in making a creating a positive change. We should remember that it is not only Greta or Malala who should strive to make a change but also it is the responsibility of the entire young community. We can also carry out various awareness programs, protests at least in a small scale on different issues faced by both the young and older persons. The examples of some problems can be listed down as
- Gender inequality
- Child Marriage
- Ragging in state universities (Only common in some countries)
- Global Warming
- Unaccess to pure drinking water especially in remote areas.
- Domestic violence
As far as I am concerned, the young people should inspire others. They can join as ambassadors in many charity programmes. Each one of them can be given a role as an ambassador. This will help the members to come out with different innovative ideas and find solutions to great global challenges faced at present.
It is the youth who have firsthand experience facing problems at some point of their lives. Therefore, it is up to them to voice their problems. For example, gender inequality is a commonly observed problem nowadays. It is a fundamental human right which is also a basic foundation for peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future. It is sad to note that 1 in 5 girls and women between 15-40 years of age experience physical or sexual exploitation. Many countries still do not have laws in protecting women from violence. In such a context, how can we remain silent without finding solutions to all these burning problems? Eradicating harmful practices targeted at women is crucial in ending gender based violence which is prevalent in many countries. We can lend a helping hand by
- Joining social media campaigns while creating a blog where young people can share their personal experiences, pertaining to gender inequality
- Carrying out regular conversations with your family members, school and staff members in workplace about gender roles in household management.
- Making presentations and presenting it to your colleagues in schools or work place.
- Volunteering in Non-Governmental Organizations by education young girls about contraception, reproductive hygiene
- Becoming a youth advocate in your own country.
- organizingprotests, street dramas, spreading leaflets, arranging separate meetings with ministersand carrying out social campaigns to make everyone open their eyes to these issues at least now
Unlike in the past, nowadays young people are clever, talented and have a desire to come out with innovative ideas. Youth entrepreneurship offers innovative solutions for the economic growth among young people. However, there is an urgent need to create more jobs for the people. I feel that youth entrepreneurship should be actively promoted by organiations.Then only it could help economies to flourish resulting in development of the society. There are many youngsters who have inborn talents related to mechanical engineering, businesses, sewing, art and craft but some are unable to earn a living using their skills mainly due to lack of money. For example, there are children who have the talent to repair broken vehicles but yet they are unable to begin their own garage due to lack of money they have. This problem can be observed especially in rural areas of developing countries. In such instances, it is better if the government can organize some free training programmes in foreign countries for the young people and later give them a small amount of money initially tobegin their enterprise. Once they are trained and mentored in the field in which they are talented, they can then establish their own businesses which will in turn create more job opportunities in their home countries. Many have forgotten that the youth are the future capital of a nation. Therefore, attention should be paid for the development of these future capitals. If countries need a resourceful young generation, a collective effort needs to be taken by the government, school, family and society. Each of these parties has a role to play in contributing to youth Entrepreneurship.
The young people who suffer unemployment problem can engage in youth taxi service, babysitting, social media consultant. In addition, there are young girls who are uneducated but talented enough to sew clothes. Despite their talent, they cannot establish their own business because of financial difficulties. Youth organizations in partnership with the UNDP can provide sewing machines which ultimately would motivate them to start their own textile companies and become self-employed. As a result, it can create more job opportunities for many other women who are job less.
My choice is that educating young men and boys about sexual and reproductive issues will reduce the epidemic of gender based violence. As a young girl, I would like to stress that the youth organizations should organize programmes on sexual educationaddressing the traditions and stereotypes that keep women at home .This will grab more women into the workplace.
New research has found that if the world wants to achieve zero maternal death, zero unmet need for family planning, zero gender based violence, it would require $264 billion. Without this investment in gender equality, the sustainable development goals will remain as a distant dream.
In conclusion, we as the young crowd should play significant role in building a nation. We are ambitious, creative, optimistic change makers and leaders of any social exercise who need the support of the government in making a huge and long lasting difference to the entire world.
Author: D.M Navoda Dissanayake