NEW YORK, United States of America, 7 August 2014 – One quarter of the world’s population today is youth. Like never before, young people are using emerging technology and new media to voice their opinions, influence change and build the future they want.
To celebrate International Youth Day, which is commemorated on 12 August, UNICEF’s Beyond School Books podcast series features a conversation between two young activists – Rodrigo Riaza, a Spanish Global Youth Ambassador for Education and the episode moderator, and Hannah Godefa, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Rodrigo and Hannah discussed the importance of activism and the role of education in enabling young people to fulfill their potential.
Listen the podcast in streaming MP3 format
Hannah’s passion stemmed from an experience she had when she was visiting her home country, Ethiopia, for the first time, at the age of 7. She became close friends with a girl her age, but was shocked to learn that her Ethiopian friend could not continue their correspondence because she had no pencils. To resolve the problem, Hannah founded the Pencil Mountain Project, which now counts more half a million pencils sent to thousands of children in rural Ethiopia.
Hannah said that, during visits to Ethiopia and South Sudan, she has witnessed the long-standing tradition that prevents girls from getting an education. Many girls end up having to work in their houses or get married and start their own family. She also talked about girls she meets who are breaking these barriers.
“I got a chance to talk a little about their education, what they wanted to pursue once they had graduated, and a lot of them were telling me about their plans for the future and how they wanted to continue and go to university and become doctors or lawyers or pilots, all services that gave back to their community,” she said.
Rodrigo stressed that there are multiple complex barriers impeding access to education. Providing resources is not enough to bring children, especially girls, to school. Efforts should be dedicated to tackle, for example, constraints to infrastructure that keep children from school.
But, for change to occur, young people must get involved. Hannah offered some insights on how to advocate for education, not matter what resources are available. She called upon young people to create change. “I encourage them to reach out to other like-minded children and really galvanize support as a network of young people,” she said.
Produced by Rodrigo Riaza