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Ritu Jain, 23, is a full-time social worker, motivational speaker, freelance journalist and Youth Accountability Advocate with Restless Development India. She graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Jaipur National University and did her graduation in Journalism and Mass Communications from Amity University in Rajasthan, India. She has worked with several national and regional NGOs and has extensive experience in both broadcast and print journalism. At Restless Development, she has selected sexual violence against men and women in colleges of Jaipur as her Youth Accountability focus area.  

Ever since I started working as a social worker in 2016, representing Restless Development at two international events organised at the UN headquarters this year has been the best opportunity. The first event was the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held from 11 to 22 March 2019, while the second one was the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), which took place between 9 to 18 July 2019.  

Ritu and fellow youth representative outside the UN the HLPF

Both of the opportunities have been enthralling and quintessential experiences for me. Learning from sessions with global leaders and implementing those lessons in your working area increases your efficiency, improves your tactics to handle work pressure, and tells you how to tackle social causes in a structured way. 

CSW, organised by UN Women, was a learning experience where civil societies from all over the world worked on causes related to gender equality. Pre-CSW was a chance to get an idea of what would happen during the week ahead. On the first day of pre-CSW, I was appointed as co-facilitator of an event alongside an official representative of UN Women, Molline Marume. The second day involved negotiations between different groups who would continue to work separately on the issues discussed, even after they returned to their home countries. 

Finally, the day arrived. As we headed to the UN headquarters, I knew that March was going to be an experience of a lifetime.

On March 13, during an intergenerational event, I was appointed by UN women to raise questions to the UNAIDs Executive Director regarding the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The event was attended by more than 500 people at the United Nation Security Council. On the same day, during a round table conference with UNFPA, organized by Restless Development, I and my fellow Youth Accountability Advocate from Tanzania,  Thobias,  were fortunate enough to be able to speak about our work and experiences.

Ritu being interviewed by UN News

I met officials from India and told them about my work. Each meeting and conversation I had during that week was a new chance to learn; an opportunity to represent what I as a young person feel. I was able to highlight the barriers that I face in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and indicate how I am being supported by a broader civil society movement. I was filled up with power and joy by seeing so many young people working for the betterment of their states. I am sure that if young people take command for the betterment of their nation, then our country is definitely in safe hands. Young people will work to develop their country, they just need support from the government and guidance at the initial stages on how to begin their journey of SUCCESS.

HLPF was full of meetings and interviews. In this event, I explored a lot of opportunities to speak and was astonished to see that everyone wanted to listen to young people’s voices but it seemed like it was young people who didn’t always want to raise their voice. With my fellow Youth Accountability Advocate from Tanzania, Amina, we were exposed to a UNFPA Round Table session where we spoke about our work and how it is impacting society on the whole. I was also interviewed by UN News, where I spoke in detail about my work and it was telecasted online. 

Ritu sharing her perspective on attaining the SDGs alongside other young leaders from around the world, at a Facebook Live Event organized by Restless Development

Both of these experiences have been life-changing for me: I saw how other young people are working around the globe, and learned about how I can implement their approaches in my own community. As a young person,  I would say we just need to stand up and raise our voices, the world is ready to listen. Take charge and speak if you really want to bring a change in society and want to improve it. Stop criticising and start working for societal change so that after a decade we won’t be talking about issues like reducing gender inequality or economic inequality or any other social subject. Instead of lingering around the issues, we should think of how those issues can be resolved in the best possible way and begin to make the best out of available resources.

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