For Youth by Youth: SDG4Youth network championing youth-led decision-making

Submitted by geraldine on Wed, 06/15/2022 - 15:16
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Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world. Education is the key to any possible transformation in tomorrow's society – Nelson Mandela

On a national and international scale, the values taught, the knowledge, the mistakes of the past, and the challenges of the future are all incorporated into the school curriculum. By focusing on education, future generations will be able to find a balance between Man and Nature, which includes all individuals regardless of gender, color, or belief. More than ever, new generations should be included and considered as significant stakeholders in diplomatic sphere. Our world will be their world, and they will become the main actors of any potential change. 

The SDG4Youth Network is a UNESCO-supported platform that puts youth in the driving seat for education. The Sustainable Development Goals need the active participation of young people as torchbearers of quality education and lifelong learning. To this end, the SDG4Youth Network is part of the collective action of the Global Education Cooperation Mechanism (GCM).

By supporting and working closely with the SDG4Youth Network, youth raise the voice of youth and students and guarantee the possibility of real change. The world of tomorrow needs the expertise of people in High Level Steering Committees but also the energy of youth to make the world a more just and inclusive place.

The newly elected Executive Committee representatives of the SDG4Youth Network provide thematic and regional coordination expertise, taking the voices of youth and students to the highest levels.

  • Doris Mwikali, (she/her), SDG4Youth Representative for Africa, HLSC Sherpa Group
  • Eliane El Haber (she, her), SDG4Youth Representative for Arab States 
  • Kenisha Arora, (she/her), SDG4Youth Representative for Europe and North America, HLSC Leaders Group
  • Maria Nguyen, (she/her), SDG4Youth Representative for Asia and the Pacific 
  • Sofía Bermúdez, (she/her), SDG4Youth Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean 

Their expertise ensures that they can represent the collective voices of global youth in the following areas:

Academic policy:
Kenisha has vast experience with transforming academic policy as a former School Board Trustee in the Toronto Area and current Senator at her University. Kenisha has served as a School Board Trustee in the Greater Toronto Area representing over 250,000 students in her community, working with Ontario's Ministry of Education to dismantle systemic inequities. Kenisha believes that as we shape the future of humanity and our planet, we must not forget that youth are the guardians of the future. Representing the young people at the decision-making level, she strives to unite youth leaders to strengthen global advocacy, develop policy recommendations and deepen impacts of local youth-led action.

Education system and curriculum:
Eliane works with students so they can surpass their academic difficulties, believe in their potential, make the right choices regarding their education and career, and find the financial support they might need. She also works on research at the national and the Arab regional level focusing on curriculum and education system reforms. Being part of the network, representing the Arab region is a dream come true for Eliane as she has always wanted to raise her voice for change. On a global level, the network is a space where the opinions and ideas of young people can be heard and put into action.

Youth Mobilization:
Sofia works at Education for Sharing as an Educational Leader and she is a member of the Argentine Youth Organization for the United Nations (OAJNU), an organization that aims to empower young people through educational projects. Being a SDG4Youth representative is an incredible opportunity that allows Sofia to continue working for youth empowerment, amplifying young people's voices, and ensuring that young people are included in the decision-making tables.

Climate Change and education for sustainability and development (ESD):
Doris Mwikali is the current National Youth Climate Action Programs Lead at the Kenya Red Cross Society. As the focal person on climate action, Mwikali works to build an ecosystem that aims to support the Society’s 200,000 volunteers and young people to adapt and thrive in the face of the climate crisis through climate education. As a young person passionate about Global Sustainability Education, her position as Africa’s Representative to the SDG4 Youth Executive Council provides Doris with an opportunity to leverage her professional experiences in the development sector to create an ecosystem that will support young people to effectively advocate for Education. 

Health education and comprehensive sexuality education and development:
Maria is the International Education Manager at Planned Parenthood of New South Wales, a non-profit organization that improves the reproductive and sexual health and rights of communities in Australia and the Pacific region. Maria provides technical assistance to the Departments of Education and Health to implement comprehensive sexuality education. Being part of the SDG4Youth Network has enabled Maria to hear the incredible stories and solutions of other members and she will strive to ensure young people are meaningfully engaged in education decisions. 

The Executive Committee will support the youth and student representatives of the SDG 4 Education 2030 High Level Steering Committee (HLSC), and during the Transforming Education Pre-summit in June. 

The Network, composed of members aged 18-29 years old representing youth and student organizations active in the field of education, is the first UNESCO youth network to have set up a bottom-up nominations system by youth for youth to elect the representatives to form the Network's Executive Committee (nominations process). The support of partners has been essential to making youth-led decision-making a reality, including the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY).