“Young people aren’t the leaders of tomorrow. They are the leaders of today and tomorrow.“Kathy Calvin – Former Resident and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation.
In our past blog, we shone a light on the lack of youth input in policies that affect them directly. Following on from our previous blog ‘Why we need to listen to youth voice’, we want to share some of the amazing work that is changing the way that youth in the UK are involved in policymaking and democracy.
At 17 years old, Amika began her fight for free sanitary products for all teenagers after reading that many girls who could not afford sanitary products would stay home and miss school. Amika started a #FreePeriods campaign which had a huge governmental impact, leading to the chancellor announcing that from 2020, every child would be able to access menstrual products for free . campaign which had a huge governmental impact, leading to the chancellor announcing that from 2020, every child would be able to access menstrual products for free. campaign which had a huge governmental impact, leading to the chancellor announcing that from 2020, every child would be able to access menstrual products for free.
Despite every state school requiring to provide period products for their students, #FreePeriods has shown that only 40% of schools and colleges have signed up to the scheme since its launch in 2020.
“It’s simple. No one should miss out on an education because they don’t have access to products. But period poverty is widespread across the globe, and we need Governments and policymakers to take action to ensure that all children can go to school and learn. This is about equality. Equal access to education and opportunities for all.”FreePeriods
Legally Black UK is a political organisation consisting of young dedicated activists that aim to better black representation in media . Headed by Shiden Tekle, the aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the lack of black narrative and to facilitate this into the entertainment industry. With the support of The Special Patrol Group, a specialised London Police Unit, the groups had publicised their striking film posters depicting ethnically diverse actors in classic movies. With a tagline of ‘If you’re surprised, it means you don’t see enough black people in major roles’, these posters are raising the public’s awareness of the major lack of representation in the media.
To see the posters made by Legally Black UK and read more about their journey and motivation for their organisation, check out this interview from Shadesofnoir, a group that highlights creative work from marginalised groups. This interview highlights that the media portrays black people as ‘criminals’ more than anything else.
Daze Aghaji ran for election at 19 and was the youngest candidate to stand in an EU parliamentary election. A strong advocate for climate change, Daze Aghaji actively supports and provides her expertise to non-governmental organisations, prominent charities and many leaders globally. Daze is also a leading advocate for youth political engagement. In an interview with Marie Claire, a news source, Daze states her thoughts on the reaction of others in their involvement in politics, their opinions on youth in political leadership, and why they are passionate about climate change .
“Young people have never been represented in politics in a meaningful way – we are given advisory roles, but never the power to actually make decisions.”Daze Aghaji (Source: Marie Claire)
To keep up to date on Daze’s work and involvement in projects, you can follow their twitter here!
Amy and Ella Meek
These two sisters (Amy, aged 18 and Ella, aged 16, from Nottinghamshire) are working towards getting businesses, schools, and town councils (and more!) to reduce their use of single-use plastics. The charity, ‘Kids Against Plastic’, set up by the two sisters, champions young people taking positive action. The environmental-based charity has picked up 100,000 pieces of plastic so far and aims to promote environmental issues like plastic pollution and the climate crisis .
Amy Meek’s latest TEDx talk, ‘It Stinks, Clean It Up!’, follows her and her sister Amy’s journey of why they set up their environmental charity, ‘Kids against Plastic’. In their journeys to school in the early mornings, the sisters would dodge dog waste on their scooters and wonder why dog owners were not cleaning up after their pets. This led the two sisters to start their first initiative and name it quite literally ‘It Stinks, Clean It Up!’
“The simplicity in this title sums up, in essence, what kids do best. Say it as it is. Why package something up in pretty messaging? Kids don’t do that. They speak with frankness and with honesty.”Amy Meek
The sisters saw how making an issue clear and understandable brings people together, turning shared emotion into positive change. In the TEDx talk, Amy shares her experiences of working together with other young people and sees that if the youth are empowered with the skills and tools, they need to believe their voices matter and can have the power to bring about big positive change.
Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International UK facilitates a campaign training programme, ‘Rise Up’ for 16 – 24-year-olds that teach budding youth human right activists how to achieve social change within their communities. This 1-year programme equips the young activists with the relevant skills, knowledge and confidence they need to make positive change happen in their communities .
One of the world’s largest human rights organisations, this programme empowers the youth to engage in positive social change, and provides a voice
“The unique one-year Rise Up training course has brought young people from across the country to deliver the change they want to see – and there’s no doubt that they are making their mark.”Sacha Deshmukh, CEO at Amnesty International UK
Say It With Your Chest (SIWYC)
Say It With Your Chest is a not-for-profit that operates across the United Kingdom. We believe in the importance of empowering young people to be the best version of themselves. Some of our aims are to inform and influence public and policy awareness and empower young people to raise their aspirations.
To find out more about our mission and how we achieve it, click on the link below!