Be a Changemaker

October 11 was declared International Day of the Girl Child by the United Nations back in October 2012. This international observance supports more opportunity for girls, and tries to increase awareness of the many inequalities that girls face worldwide due to their gender. In addition to the many organizations that petitioned for the creation of such a day, a group of 12-year-old girls in Maryland relied on social media to connect with women around the world. Known as School Girls Unite, they “mobilized more than 70 girls organizations throughout the U.S. in support of a United Nations initiative to set aside one day a year to recognize the need for girls to be educated around the world.” Their efforts still continue. School Girls Unite recently delivered “over 11,000 e-petitions urging action on the child marriage prevention bill being considered in Congress.”[1] While youth activism is not a new phenomenon, it is important to note that these girls relied almost exclusively on Facebok and email to achieve their goals.[2] It is also important to note how these new forms of civic participation and activism are now mainly peer-directed, peer-created and rely heavily on social media.[3]

There are “three forces … reshaping the world of the 21st century; youth, ICT, and entrepreneurship.”[4] Millennials “unlike most previous cohorts…actually have the means at their disposal: overwhelming numbers; unprecedented connectivity and access… [and] a sense of global community that transcends old boundaries.”[5] Many studies have indicated that the new generation is highly engaged in social activism. Studies have shown that this generation is far more “concerned than earlier generations about the global implications of their actions.”[6] While each generation exhibits positive and negative it is agreed that Millennials “won’t just inherit the world… they’ll actively alter it.”[7]

In fact, it’s we already see it happening. For one, teenagers have become a common presence at international conferences. In recent years, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland has included “the Davos Six.” These are teenagers picked by the British Council, from the Global Changemakers initiative (a global youth network of community activist, social activists and advocates between the ages of 16-25).  At the forum these young changemakers have addressed global leaders about the work they do in their own communities. These have included public health programs in Sri Lanka, community arts initiatives in Portugal as well as programs to meet the needs of disabled students in school in Iraq. This is “the sort of immediate, grassroots, experience-based political change to expect from [Millennials]… who assume they have the right to be heard and to act.”[8]  Millennials know they can have a global impact given the how interconnected people have become due to the internet.

So get inspired, involved, and become a changemaker too.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Salkowitz, Rob. Young World Rising: How Youth, Technology and Entrepreneurship Are Changing the World from the Bottom Up. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2010. p.9.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Tapscott, Don. Growing up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999. Print.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

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