Ready, set, GO! Go and unleash the power that is in you! In every young person who is working to advance the wellbeing and health of every adolescent in this world. The CanWASH conference kicked off with a theme entitled, “Unleash the Power of a Generation.” What does this mean?

The Executive Director of CanWach, Helen Scott said “Adolescents can be the real game changers, so we need to focus on them. They hold the key to a more sustainable future and we need to urgently address the inequities that hold them back, especially in the developing world.”

Young people are finally being recognised as game changers, agents of change that have the potential, capability and the POWER to resolve the issues that they face because they understand their own issues and they know how and what it will take to resolve those issues.

At this conference, there are 3 key things we need to advocate for:

  1. Young people’s voices have to be counted

  2. Partner, support and nurture youth leadership

  3. Youth led organisations need to be implementing partners not just “speaking tokens”

Youth in Action was a session that I moderated and that amplified these 3 key points, further emphasising that young people have the power that is being unleashed and power that can be unleashed only if they are empowered with the right information, knowledge, skills and resources to advance the health agenda. In this session, I had three young people, Zila Vela, a 17 year old Advocate from Peru who promotes and protects the rights of adolescent girls; Tiyahna Ridley, a global changemaker who managed to mobilise 18000 youth in Canada on a ChangeTheWorld campaign and Danait Mehreteab, who advocates and works to situate young people of racialized communities in positions of leadership and influence by promoting diversity and inclusion. At this conference, they were given a platform, they had been given an opportunity to voice out their needs, challenge the status quo and share strategies that ought to be supported and up-scaled in order for us to reach ALL young people in our nations. 10 years ago, you would never find any session at any conference being led by young people alone and this marked a progressive step towards our vision of having lasting and impacting results when those that are affected are placed at the centre. It is important to note that advancing the needs and wellbeing of adolescents and youth can only be driven by the adolescents and youth.

To spice this all up, our Adolescent and Youth Constituency under the Partnership on Maternal, Newborn and Child health with the support of Women Deliver finally officially launched an advocacy toolkit for youth organisations, youth networks and youth leaders that will build young people's capacity to create a movement, advocate for change and transform the lives of adolescents at the CanWach conference. Download your own copy from here.

Youth in ACTION!! We have the power, and with the support of partners around the world, we will be able to participate fully in shaping prosperous and sustainable societies.

Gogontlejang Phaladi & Tikhala Itaye Advocating or Change for Adolescents!


About the Author.