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We are Generation Equality: Youth champions for change

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Billions of people are standing up for what they believe in – an equal world for all. They come from all countries, ages, and represent diverse backgrounds. Together, they are Generation Equality.

From 31 May to 6 June, we’re celebrating the #ActForEqual Week of Action and showcasing young leaders and their activism. Learn from them why the Generation Equality Forum is important for all generations. It’s up to all of us, and the Generation Equality Action Coalitions, to accelerate concrete change for women and girls.

Join us by reading the perspectives of youth from around the world who are leaders and changemakers, and sharing their stories.

Lana Ghneim, Jordan

Lana Ghneim, 23, from Jordan, is a member of the HeForShe campaign in Jordan, a solidarity movement for the advancement of gender equality led by UN Women. Photo: UN Women/Lauren Rooney

Lana Ghneim, 23, has seen inequality through her own eyes. She saw how families treated their daughters and sons differently, and saw girls being forced to leave their education for marriages. She knew it wasn’t right.

“I became more aware of inequalities among genders and social classes and began to try to change the world around me,” Lana says.

She started volunteering with international organizations and movements, like UN Women’s HeForShe, and realized how important it was to her to have a positive impact on the lives of those around her, especially among youth and the next generation.

“It’s important to begin teaching gender equality to younger generations through education and media campaigns. People need to be exposed to these messages regularly; normalizing gender equality is one of the most important issues in Jordan,” Lana says. “If we don’t push for change now, future generations will face the same challenges.”

Majandra Rodriguez Acha, Peru

Majandra Rodriguez Acha from Lima, Peru is a Co-Executive Director at FRIDA, The Young Feminist Fund, the co-founder and former co-coordinator of TierrActiva Perú. Photo: UN Women/Amanda Voisard

For Majandra Rodriguez Acha, a key part of both feminism and climate action is recognizing the intersections of inequality and discrimination, and using your voice and power to improve life for all.

“I recognize that those who are most impacted by gender-based violence and by gender inequalities, are also the most impoverished and marginalized – black and brown women, indigenous women, women in rural areas, young girls, girls living with disabilities, trans youth and gender non-conforming youth,” says Majandra. “That is not okay and it’s not what anyone deserves. We deserve better. We can do better.”

Majandra, a member of UN Women’s Beijing+25 Youth Task Force, works to empower youth, especially those from marginalized or underrepresented groups, to be leaders in the climate justice movement.

“Young people are in a lot of ways the solution,” she says. “We're living through a historic moment in terms of the climate crisis, which young people did not create, but we do have an option of leading the way to centring respect for nature, and respect for each other.”

Munnira Katongole, South Africa

Munnira Katongole. Photo courtesy of Munnira Katongole.

Munnira Katongole, 17, describes herself as an unapologetic, radical Black feminist. Sick of seeing girls and women suffer, she advocates for including the voices of girls and young women at the centre of all decision-making, especially in social justice and climate change movements.

“The world as we know was built on the backs of women of color and continues to be vivified by young women of colour. We are not asking to be listened to, we are not owed favours, we WILL have our rightful and due seats at the table,” Munnira says. “Young women of colour are the experts of their reality. We don’t need your aid; we need your accountable solidarity.”

Munnira, a member of the South African Institute of International Affairs’ Youth Policy Committee on climate, recognizes that youth, especially African youth, make up a good portion of the population, meaning they cannot be excluded from policy-making settings.

There must be deep, just transition, politically informed by the voices and needs of all people, especially, the poor and vulnerable communities,” she says. “Youth are now. Youth are the future.”

Navya Naveli Nanda, India

Nanda shows her messages outside Fashion Institute of Technology In New York City, on 3 April 2021. Behind her is a student-painted mural on the theme of Black Lives Matter, with a focus on empowering black women. Photo: Courtesy of Gauri Kanade

After being inspired by the progress made towards ending period poverty in other countries, Navya Naveli Nanda, 23, co-founded a start-up that creates scientifically-backed health care products for women in India, and spreads awareness about women’s health topics that are often stigmatized in the country.

“I remember hearing about Scotland becoming the first country to make period products free,” Navya says. “I want to make that also possible in my country, where every day, women are struggling to access menstrual hygiene products and health care. I want to see this achieved in my lifetime, that’s why I started out so young. We are responsible for building the world we want to live in.”

Now, Navya works to improve not only access to menstrual hygiene products, but to spread education and end the taboo that leads to harmful customs. She also hopes to encourage other young people to become advocates for equality in their everyday lives.

“Educating yourself about the problem moves you one step closer to the solution. Educate those around you about pressing issues faced by women today,” she says. “Even the smallest acts of resistance can make a difference.”

Ajna Jusic, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ajna Jusić, 26 years old, is the President of the Forgotten Children of War Association. Photo: UN Women/Maria Sanchez

Ajna Jusic, 26, was born out of rape during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After coming across a detailed account of what had happened to her mother in a research text, Ajna committed to connecting with others who shared her experience and advocating for her mother’s rights.

“In 2015, 15 of us met up for the first time. For three hours nobody said a word. We just sat there and realized, for the first time, that we were not alone,” Ajna says.

As the President of the Forgotten Children of War Association, Ajna works towards the recognition of herself and other children of war-time rape as a vulnerable group in order to improve their access to healthcare, psychological and legal support and education grants.

“We do not want to be invisible; we want to be treated equally,” Ajna says.

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