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Getting the chance to attend the United Nations General assembly 73rd session (UNGA73) in New York was the most exciting opportunity I have ever had at the age of 23.

As a young person, my views and opinions were being heard in high-level events and I was able to represent the voice of millions of young people at an international level.

Being able to attend the UNGA and take part in such important events was very motivational. The week gave me the chance to share my own work on towards SDG 5 in Tanzania, which focuses on  Gender Violence. I was also able to share the opinions of other young people I had worked with in Tanzania. It was one of the safest spaces I have ever been in as a young person.  

Aisha at a panel event

The UNGA gave me an opportunity to meet different people from all over the world with interesting ideas. I got to meet decision makers, public figures, stakeholders and other partners whom I was able to share my work and views with as we discussed meaningful ways to change the world.

The launch of the first ever UN Youth Strategy was the most exciting event of my UNGA experience. I was very glad to be at the launch with so many young people and hear firsthand the details of the UN’s focus on young people.

Aparna and Aisha with the UN Youth Envoy

Meeting with youth from different parts of the world, seeing how excited they were and getting to speak on issues we face was overwhelming. It made me realise that when it comes to decision making, young people need involvement. We do not need the world to change for us, we need to be the ones to change the world. 

As much as I was excited about attending the UNGA I was pretty disappointed by the lack of young people on the formal event panels. I think a wider range of youth representation needs to be addressed in such global platforms.

Every day at the UNGA was new, it was full of learning, sharing, networking and fun. One thing I have seen for sure is, young people now more than ever are so ready to spin the wheel and create changes to commit to making the world a better place. I believe as young people we can change the world, we just need more safe spaces to articulate what we can do.

Aisha Matiko is a Gates Foundation Youth Accountability Advocate from Tanzania. She is working on collecting data on gender equality and access to family planning with a focus on gender-based violence to hold governments to account on their commitments to the Sustainable Development Goal 5. 

 

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