Calling all young women; Our time is now

As young women we see the world not as it is but as it could be. We don’t simply accept that things are this way because it’s how they’ve always been. We look for ways that things could be better. Not just for us but for people around the world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us what we can achieve when we all work together behind a common goal and increasingly we are seeing what we as young women and girls can do on the global stage when we join together to make our voices heard.

People say that as youth we are the future leaders – but I believe that we are the leaders of today. Around the world young women and girls are proving that every day in our communities and on the world stage.

We may not have the wisdom of age or experience but we have a passion to drive change and an ability to connect with each other across borders never before seen. Movements such as Fridays for Future have shown how we can connect with each other around the world and work together to drive progress on major global issues such as climate change.

We know that there are major issues facing the world that will continue to affect us throughout the next decades and that progress on tackling these issues has often gone backwards as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We know that the rate of progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals means we are unlikely to meet these global goals of ending hunger, poverty etc. by 2030. We know that at the current rate of progress it will take us around 300 years to reach full gender equality. That around the world there are 380 million women and girls living in poverty, 54% of girls in crisis affected areas aren’t in school and 1 in 3 women globally have experience food insecurity.

But we also know that none of these issues are insurmountable. That we have the solutions to solve many of these problems around the world. We just need to all play our small part. We have seen the effects of the global community stepping up to address these issues.

In the years since the late 1980’s extreme poverty has fallen by 24%. The world coming together avoided famine in Somalia around a decade ago and locally we have seen the incredible impact on communities that support for those affected by flooding and bushfires has had.

As young women and girls we have the power to lead action on these issues in our communities, nationally and on the international stage. Our age doesn’t mean that we can’t. It just means that we have a fresh perspective.

We all have the potential to be change makers in our communities. When we find our voices, find the causes we are passionate about and dedicate ourselves to making an impact for the world we are unstoppable.

Young women around the world like Great Thunberg have shown us the impact that we can have. By leading in their own way on issues important to them they show us what we ourselves could achieve if we put our minds to it.

A girl I know who was asked recently who she looked up to answered with ‘I look up to my future self because hopefully one day I will be a change maker too’. If you’re reading this I hope you will take the opportunity to think about what your impact will be because you really do have the power to change the world.

Author: Ané Coetzee – CEO and Founder Young Women in Sustainable Development

Ané is a youth advocate working to make the voices of young people heard on some of the biggest issues facing our world today. She is a passionate humanitarian who has worked with the United Nations in multiple countries and as an Australian Aid volunteer in the Pacific. She is the Founder and CEO of Young Women in Sustainable Development a youth-led and run organisation empowering young women to take action on issues ranging from poverty to climate change in 126 countries around the world.