Youth Voices and Rights in Development: Celebrating the Global Youth Forum
This week, 900 young leaders will convene at the United Nations' Global Youth Forum in Bali, Indonesia. These young people, as well as thousands of young virtual delegates, have come together to discuss the future of our world, crafting recommendations around five key themes: health, education, work opportunities, sexuality and family, and inclusive civic participation. This is a critical opportunity for young people to contribute directly to the process of defining future development goals.
As someone who has spent years working with young people in Brazil and seven years working with Pathfinder International in Mozambique, I know young people not only have a right to sexual and reproductive health, but they also must be guaranteed the right and opportunity to lead the development agenda at local, national, and global levels. Young people must have their voices heard. For these reasons, I’m thrilled that Pathfinder was able to support the efforts of two young sexual and reproductive health and rights advocates who we work with here in Mozambique to attend the Global Youth Forum.
Milsa Ussene, 23, and Manuel Tivane, 21, are the only two young people representing Mozambique in Bali this week! We supported them to apply for a scholarship to attend, and when they were selected, collaborated closely with them to ensure they felt prepared to represent Mozambican youth at the forum.
Milsa and Manuel have taken their role as delegates to this Global Forum seriously and are well prepared. Before the forum, they coordinated meetings with the Mozambican National Youth Council and members of their youth association, Luarte, to define critical issues their peers wanted to see addressed at the forum. Luarte is a youth-led association based in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, that uses drama (such as community theatre and radio shows) to help young people and their communities address a range of socio-economic issues, including sexual and reproductive health, water and sanitation, and disaster relief.
After the forum, we look forward to presentations and discussions that Milsa and Manuel are planning and a blog that we will post here. They want to ensure that their experience connecting and networking with young people from around the world is able to benefit Mozambican youth civil society and other young people in the global community.
Milsa and Manuel are proof that empowering youth leaders at a local level can have global impact.I first met Milsa and Manuel through a program that Pathfinder implements here in Mozambique called INICIATIVA. Through INICIATIVA, we have partnered with five youth-led and youth-serving organizations—including Luarte—to strengthen their organizational and technical capacity to sustainably implement programs led by young people for young people, and to advocate for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The youth members of Luarte and the other organizations we work with remind me every day why I work for an organization like Pathfinder—we don’t just talk the talk about youth participation and leadership, we walk the walk. Milsa and Manuel are proof that empowering youth leaders at a local level can have global impact. They will be wonderful assets to the Global Youth Forum and I’m looking forward to hearing about the strong, progressive recommendations they develop along with thousands of other young leaders this week.