International Youth Day is a busy time of year for young leaders and change-makers worldwide. It’s not news to anyone that 60% of Africa’s population is under 25 years old. Peak youth (or the demographic dividend) has a huge potential.
As always, Restless Development is celebrating the incredible achievements that youth-led change is making. But this year we want to bring your attention to what more we can do.
The power of youth-led change (otherwise known as Youth Power!)
Young people lead movements and global change, without much fanfare. Every day, young people are organising to solve real problems in their lives and communities. Collective action led by young people is transforming the status quo. Such as:
Young changemakers are better connected than ever before. The Youth Collective, set up by Restless Development, now has more than 4,000 youth-led organisations. The fast growth is testimony to the appetite of young organisers to connect across boards to hold the line on diminishing rights, as well as support and mentor each other.
How is Youth Power faring?
Restless Development’s annual flagship report ‘State of Youth Civil Society’ shines a light on how youth-led organising is faring. This year, the report ‘Young, Feminist and Fearless: Holding the Line’ focused on the critical role of young feminist movements. The research involved more than 1,000 young people in 82 countries. We found that:
Movements are led by young people – they’re resilient and strong – however, they don’t usually get the recognition they deserve.
Feminist movements are fighting an unseen battle with mental health and face alarming security challenges.
What does Youth Power need?
This year’s research highlighted the question – who protects the protectors? When young feminists are doing so much to hold the line for their rights, they are all too often led unfunded, unsupported and burnt out.
It’s not just young feminists that are struggling to get the funding and support they need. Earlier this year, the ClimateWorks Foundation found that youth-led climate justice initiatives account for only 0.76% of climate mitigation funding from the world’s largest climate foundations.
This International Youth Day, as we shine a light on and celebrate the incredible force that is Youth Power, let’s ask ourselves what more are we doing to provide the long-term sustainable lifeline that is needed to keep the Youth Power fire burning. For more on Restless Development, read our Strategy and our latest Annual Report.
Alex is the Co-CEO of the global youth agency Restless Development. She has over 20 years of experience in international development, with particular expertise in global campaigns and stakeholder consultations with organisations such as WaterAid, Save the Children, Comic Relief, and the Global Campaign for Education. Until 2021, Alex was Restless Development’s Director of Strategy, leading a strategy development process which consulted over 5,000 young people across 64 countries. She also oversaw the development of the Youth Collective and Youth Power for the agency. She has spoken and written on a host of issues, including a number of times for Huffington Post. Alex holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography, and Masters in Education and International Development specialising in qualitative and participatory youth research.
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