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Story and Perspective

The Next Generation of Change Starts Now

Shaylyn Stanley

Next Gen—Millennials and Gen Z—are on the cusp of becoming leaders across society. This year, the oldest Millennials will turn 40. With the median age of the workforce at 42, starting now and over the next four decades, Next Gen around the world will be in the driving seat as chief executives, education administrators, legislators, and philanthropists. They have already made waves as leaders of social movements, and they will increasingly be in the position to drive activism and solutions for the causes they care about.

To ensure this next generation of leaders is equipped with the information they need, it’s important that they have access to resources and tools that can help them to better understand core societal issues.

Pathfinder International fills that gap by engaging passionate Gen Z and Millennials through the Acacia Circle. By becoming a member of Pathfinder’s Acacia Circle, Next Gen leaders in the US deepen their understanding of sexual and reproductive health so that they can be informed advocates who activate in ways that are authentic to them.

According to the Millennial Impact Report, Millennials care deeply about a range of causes across sectors and industries, not just global health, and recognize activism to be a powerful instrument of change. Pew Research Center further shows that Gen Z share this investment in social and political issues, and that, ultimately, civic engagement will increasingly become part of an individual’s daily life.

A 2017 survey asked millennials to list the actions they had taken recently in support of a cause or social interest. Giving ranked third, while volunteering did not appear among the top six. Instead, they had chosen to act with their feet, wallets and social media accounts. (Millennial Impact Report)

We find this to be true among our Acacia Circle members.

We’re also finding that Next Gen are ready for their moment to take a leading step forward to drive actionable and sustainable change around the world.

The Generation Equality Forum is that moment.

Organized by UN Women and centered around advancing gender equality globally, the Generation Equality Forum is a convening of leading changemakers across issue areas, sectors, countries, and generations. With a clear mandate for engaging young people, the forum is a pivotal opportunity for Next Gen to meaningfully join these efforts. The forum provides a platform for inter-generational dialogue, where both experts and young people can share their lived and learned experiences and goals at the same decision-making table. The forum also brings together key influencers and mobilizers, including governments, funders, multilaterals, and implementing organizations, providing the rare opportunity for holistic discussions on the challenges and solutions for achieving gender equality.

This is the opportunity for the next generation of leaders to immerse themselves in the conversations that lay the foundation for the next generation of civic engagement and philanthropy.

As a Next Gen, both the Gender Equality Forum and can help you stay informed and ensure your voice is heard.

Lauren Gross, Member of Pathfinder’s Acacia Circle

Over the Acacia Circle’s first year, members have developed campaigns to spread awareness on sexual and reproductive health issues among their networks and served as ambassadors for the organization at conferences and events. Looking ahead to our second year, the group is excited to develop new programs that expand their reach, grow into a global network, visit Pathfinder programs globally to deepen their contextual understanding of global health, and launch initiatives that focus on more than just sexual and reproductive health—including sustainable change and equity in access to health services.

With open dialogue, actionable next steps, and a global presence, the Generation Equality Forum is the moment for Next Gen to step up and be recognized as the future of social change.

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