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It has been 5 years since world leaders committed to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals Agenda for 2030. The SDGs are a commitment to action on poverty and inequality reduction, and ecological stewardship. The next ten years will be vital to ensuring that the world’s population live in a sustainable, just and prosperous world. In 2019 over half of that world population is under 30. Therefore the only way we can hope to achieve this is through the leadership and vision of young people.

2019 has been a year in which young people have taken the lead in an unprecedented way. We have had the pleasure of bringing you the stories of these incredible, inspirational young people, often in their own words. As we enter into 2020 it seems fitting to look back at some of these stories. To recognise these change-makers, learn from their successes and gain insight from their frustrations.

Without further ado, here are the 10 We Are Restless articles from 2019 you shouldn’t miss.

1. Mia in Madagascar

Mia, 22, is a young change-maker from Madagascar. She successfully campaigned to change the law in her country to allow under 18s access to contraception. Mia’s story shows what a huge difference can be made with tenacity, passion and strategy. Gemma Munday, the stories lead at Restless Development, worked with Mia to film her story using mobile phones and then sat down to interview Mia about her work.

2. From Sierra Leone to Brazil

Greta Thunberg has become a symbol of youth-led advocacy. At just 16 years old she has taken the lead on climate change. She isn’t alone. Thousands of young people across the globe are taking up the fight to save our planet from Sierra Leone to Brazil. In this piece we invited some lesser known young people who are mobilising their communities to demand climate justice. We also brought you a longer interview with Nakabuye Flavia, a leading organiser of Friday’s for Future strikes’ Uganda chapter.

3. LGBTIQ in Nepal

This 2 part series on the LGBTIQ community in Nepal; their champions and their challenges, was probably my personal favourite article this year. Alana Christopher took an in-depth look at the legal, and practical challenges facing LGBTIQ people, documenting the progress of the right’s movement and bringing personal accounts from the front lines of those fighting for equality. This is a must-read for anyone interested in where we’re at and how to fight, no matter where you are in the world.

4. Ending Gender Based Violence, An African perspective

A late entrant, released in December, this piece by Primrose Manyalo is difficult to read at times. It is an unflinching, personal and moving statement on gender-based-violence across the African continent. However it also provides that most important of commodities: hope. Primrose’s incisive analysis, clear answers and wealth of practical experience shines a light on the way forward for tackling this menace.

5. Against all odds

When Hattie was born with Cerebral Palsy, a brain condition caused by premature birth, her parents were told she would likely never walk. Flash forwards 9 years later and Hattie is a Restless Development triathlete; running, swimming and cycling to raise money for youth-led international development. This is Hattie’s own story told in her own words.

6. Debunking the narrative of African migration

Immigration is commonly a hot topic in politics. What is more rare is quality research and analysis. That’s where Augustine, a Youth Think Tank Researcher from Tanzania, comes in. Augustine’s article explores the causes and impacts of youth migration, dispelling the myths and misconceptions.

7. The Kangulmira Mini Marathon

When Matthew Green arrived as an ICS volunteer in Uganda he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to indulge his passion for running. It turned out his passion for fitness was infectious. This piece is a fantastic celebration of the impact ICS volunteers can have on a community and the impact communities can have on volunteers. If you have made getting fit your New Years resolution, and you’re looking for motivation, look no further.

8. In the eyes of a former refugee

Akello Ongom was forced to flee her home as a child, when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was terrorising Northern Uganda. Despite her hardships Akello went on to complete a law degree and has volunteered to help other young people facing difficulties to gain an education and learn the skills they need to improve their lives. This is her story in her own words.

9. Actions speak louder than words

The active conflict in Israel-Palestine has left many children with psychological wounds and a lack of life prospects. Sulaima, a 29 year old Palestinian is working on all fronts to make their lives better. She co-founded the “Puppets for kids – Yes Theatre,” and now is working alongside Restless Development as a partner researching youth employment and employability. We caught up with her ahead of her trip to Cambridge as a youth representative at the ‘Getting By’ workshop.

10. What its like to be a youth rep at the UN

Ritu Jainis a full-time social worker, motivational speaker, freelance journalist and Youth Accountability Advocate with Restless Development India. In July she attended a United Nations High Level Political Forum on the status of women. In this absorbing account she talks about her experience entering the world stage and representing young people.

I hope these articles help you take stock of the amazing work young people have been doing in 2019. Please subscribe using the link at the bottom of this page to stay tuned, and click here if you’re interested in telling your story or voicing your opinions, in 2020.

Let’s make this year the year of #YouthPower.

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