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“Youth must be seen and be heard as change-makers”
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“Youth must be seen and be heard as change-makers”

Riddhima YadavNo one is ever too young to start positive change, says Riddhima Yadav, 18, a Correspondent from Gurgaon in India, who argues that Asia’s young change-makers are ready to take up that challenge.

After attending the Asia Youth Leader’s Summit 2013 at the British Council this month, here’s what I can say – Youth is Energy. 

Youth Involvement is gradually gaining momentum with organizations like the United Nations and various governments seeking to involve young people in different levels of decision-making. There is restlessness among young people that must be kept alive and this dissatisfaction has the potential to fuel change. 

Today the world may be plagued with problems that may seem insurmountable, however overcoming them isn’t impossible. 

The Asia Youth Leader’s Summit, organized in association with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, CYP Asia Centre and RGNIYD – Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development – saw the participation of more than 100 young change-makers from five countries who all shared a common platform to recount their powerful stories. 

The theme of the summit was Be Seen, Be Heard.  I was invited to share the dais with other young leaders and speak about the work that I had been doing since I was a child. Being one of the youngest speakers made this a great learning experience. 

Mr. Rajeev Gupta, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt. of India and Mr. Aminul Islam Khan, Regional Director, CYP Asia Centre inaugurated the Summit.  The two-day event was interspersed with technical sessions that had various young leaders speak about their work and experiences.  

The technical sessions threw up interesting questions and created room for some introspection as well. The speakers included Anshul Tewari, founder of Youth ki Awaaaz, Mr. Jeroninio Almeida, Founder of ICONGO and Bhairavi Jani, SCA Group of Companies among others. They spoke about their insights and experiences in the field of youth entrepreneurship, advocacy and participation in democratic processes. We also had Ms. Aheli Chowdhury, co-founder of Josh and Mr. Sunil Nanda, CEO of India Skills speak about skill development amongst youth and the impact of globalization. 

The second day saw me recount my story alongside other young leaders, advocates and volunteers from various Asian countries. Our stories proved a case in point – no one is ever too young to change the world. I spoke about my initiatives in sustainability and environmental conservation while urging the audience to stop procrastinating.  I recommended that we now make a shift in our perspective towards young leaders and value them as assets in the developmental dialogue. It was heartening to note my peers from countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Malaysia greatly appreciate my initiatives and outlook.  

Coming from country where more than 50 per cent of the population is below the age of 35, it is high time that we welcome young people into the ambit of decision-making processes, because if we are the ones most affected then we must have a say too! 

There is a lot to take away from such events but for now I leave you with the words of Pearl S. Buck – “The young do not know enough to be prudent and therefore they attempt the impossible – and achieve it, generation after generation…….” 

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About me:

I have been debating and participating in forums and events on global issues since I was 10. I founded my own youth task-force at 13 and have been working since then on sustainability, education, poverty and empowerment. I believe young people must be included in global governance and participation.

I am an avid equestrienne, writer, traveler, citizen journalist and award-winning speaker. I volunteer with National Geographic, WWF India and the International Youth Council, TakingitGlobal, CoalitionWILD, and UNEP Tunza Asia Pacific Group.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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