Pooja is the Assistant Communications Coordinator for Restless Development India where she works to amplify the voices of young people like her. She recently visited New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women to advocate for gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and the power of youth-led development. This blog is a part of the Q&A series with young people who volunteer or work with Restless Development by Anna Tyor, US Philanthropy Manager.
How do you feel about young people leading development?
As a young person myself, its been a great journey so far. Especially because my organization (Restless Development) not only invested in me but also trusted me. Being able to attend international forums such as High Level Political Forum (HLPF) to Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), to being able to represent my organization in front of potential collaborators and donors.
When young people lead development work, they become a role model and example for other young people, their parents and communities.
It’s a ripple effect; when you invest in young people, you’re imparting knowledge to their peers, parents, family members and community. I feel this model of development reaches a wider audience in a very small time/money investment.
Young people are the present and the future; how can we not invest in our future? When we invest our money into mutual funds, shares or property we don’t look for sudden profits, we are investing for our future. But investing in a young person has an immediate developmental change.
What do young people say to you about your work?
I am fortunate to become a role model for a few if not many. Young people I meet are looking for such opportunities, they just don’t know where to lookout or whom to contact.
Young People are passionate, hardworking and curious, they want to engage with organizations like Restless Development that are providing them with information, platforms and coalitions. We want to learn, achieve and break the barriers to emerge as leaders, all we need is someone to guide us to the correct information.
What are the most important things young people need in your community?
Young people need respect from their parents, community, governments and civil society. We need to understand millennials are not trouble makers, they are the solutions to the biggest challenges the world is facing today. Young people are not a demographic dividend they are the present and the future. We cannot have sustained long term development if we leave young people behind.
How can we engage young people more effectively?
Involving young people from the beginning of the process is very crucial. As 1.8 billion young people, we are the force required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Lets engage young people by firstly raising awareness around SDGs, by letting young people take a lead in spreading about SDGs.
Young people should be able to make their governments accountable for the promises they have made through networking, advocacy and representation.