It is not enough to listen to young people, opportunities must be created for young people to be included and participate in the decision-making processes that impact them says, Davina Thompson
It’s my first time at the UN headquarters. As I wait to check in, I find myself standing beside a group of school girls. At one point they start talking enthusiastically, and I look up from my phone and see Miss Thailand in a sparkly green dress stepping out of a vehicle. The girls continue to geek out with admiration. One girl compliments her, “she’s so pretty.” I stare at the large crown on her head. I am surrounded by people from across the world – wearing formal attire. It is a surreal experience.
I am at the UNGA to attend the opening ceremony for the Transforming Education Summit: Mobilisation Day event. When it is my turn to go through security, I am greeted by two UN security forces. I make my way through large rusted gates and into a courtyard where the 17 UN sustainable goals are painted into hopscotch. There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from the people attending – myself included.
After a series of greetings and opening remarks, the summit begins with a conversation between Ms Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General and H.E. Mr Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th General Assembly. They discuss the importance of youth-led change on education. Csaba Kőrösi makes a powerful statement, and orders everyone to “be brave, be bold, be provocative. While being provocative keep in mind interconnections because the challenges we face are interconnected.” This statement resonates deeply with me. I think about all the young people around the world that are all connected in the struggle for education transformation.
Next, Ms Amina Mohammad says a few words and emphasises that “education transformation means we must not leave absolutely no one behind. Those in humanitarian settings cannot be forgotten.” She goes on and says, “every single person has a right to education.” In the fight for education transformation, it is important to remember those who are usually forgotten. For the rest of the day, I spoke with other changemakers and attended panels on girls’ education. Throughout the weekend, changemakers, leaders, and allies all reiterated the need for young people to be involved in the change-making process. It is not enough to listen to young people, opportunities must be created for young people to be included and participate in the decision-making processes that impact them
My experience at the UN was thought-provoking and powerful. It highlighted the many initiatives and stories of young people taking strides towards equality and access for all. Now what we must do is provide young people with the resources and spaces to make change happen beyond their communities.
Davina is a sophomore at Princeton University, studying Public and International Affairs with minors in Journalism and Technology and Society. She is from Greensboro, North Carolina and is the current Communication Intern for Restless Development USA. In her free time, she loves writing, reading and hiking.