In today's world, women and young people are proving to be powerful change agents.
Whether it's through their activism, their entrepreneurship, or their leadership in governments and social organizations, they are driving progress and transforming societies.
However, despite all their efforts, women and youth are still underrepresented in decision-making positions, and their contributions are often overlooked.
In this blog post, we will examine the importance of investing in these groups and exploring ways to increase their representation in formal institutions and informal networks.
We will look at the benefits that come with empowering women and youth and the impact they have on building stronger nations.
Enhancing Economic Growth
Empowering women and youth has a direct correlation with enhancing economic growth.
Women and youth represent more than half of the world's population yet are often denied equal access to education, health care, credit, and job opportunities.
The following are the steps to create equal opportunities for women and youth to enhance economic growth:
Eliminate discriminatory policies and practices that impede the progress of women and youth in education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
Provide access to quality education and training programs that address the specific needs of women and youth, such as mentorship, coaching, and financial literacy courses.
Foster a supportive ecosystem that facilitates innovation and entrepreneurship among women and youth, such as incubators, accelerators, and funding opportunities.
Encourage the adoption of flexible work arrangements that cater to the needs of women and youth, such as telecommuting, job sharing, and part-time work
Promote gender-sensitive policies that address the unique challenges faced by women in the workplace, such as pay equity, maternity leave, and childcare support.
Encourage diversity and inclusive hiring practices that promote the employment of women and youth in leadership and decision-making roles.
Promote work-life balance by providing opportunities for leave or sabbaticals, and supporting initiatives that promote mental and physical health.
Creating Sustainable Change
Empowering women and youth are the key to creating sustainable change.
It is said that the best way to change the future is to invest in those who will own it.
Women and youth have fresh perspectives on issues and are more open to innovative approaches to problem-solving.
Some ways they can do so are:
Fig 1.0 Youths advocating for a cause
Foster a culture of civic engagement: Women and youth can become active citizens and advocate for the causes they care about. By engaging with their communities, participating in decision-making processes, and advocating for policies and initiatives that promote sustainable development, they can create lasting change.
Build networks and alliances: Women and youth can create and join networks and alliances that support their goals and promote collaboration across different sectors of society. By working together, they can leverage their strengths and make a greater impact.
Embrace diversity and inclusivity: Women and youth can foster a culture of diversity and inclusivity that values and respects different perspectives and experiences. This can help create a more equitable and just society that works for everyone.
Use technology and innovation: Women and youth can leverage technology and innovation to create sustainable solutions that address social, economic, and environmental issues. By embracing new tools and approaches, they can find new ways to tackle old problems and create more efficient, effective, and sustainable solutions.
Lead by example: Women and youth can serve as role models and leaders in their communities, inspiring others to follow their lead and work towards a more sustainable future. Demonstrating leadership and taking action can create positive change that inspires others to do the same.
Breaking Down Gender and Age Stereotypes
Empowering women and youth also helps break down age and gender stereotypes that stifle progress.
When young people are encouraged to take up leadership positions, they bring a fresh approach and a sense of hope for the future.
They are less tied to traditional models of leadership, which can be limiting.
Similarly, when women take on leadership roles, they encourage other women to follow their lead, challenging gender stereotypes and breaking down long-standing barriers.
Empowering women and youth in leadership positions promotes diversity and inclusion, which leads to better decision-making, enhanced creativity, and stronger problem-solving abilities.
Enhancing Political Participation
Empowering young people and women in political leadership roles is essential for promoting democratic systems' sustainability.
When diverse voices are included in decision-making, policymaking reflects more holistic perspectives, resulting in better policies and services for all.
The increased representation of women and youth in leadership positions leads to better governance based on inclusive and participatory decision-making processes.
It also helps build a more engaged civil society, which is essential to maintaining stable and open societies.
Here are some ways in which they enhance political participation
Increased engagement: Women and youth have traditionally been under-represented in politics but are increasingly engaged in politics. They are more likely to participate in protests, rallies, and campaigns, and to join political organizations and parties. This increased engagement is helping to create a more diverse and representative political landscape.
Amplification of voices: Women and youth are using social media and other digital platforms to amplify their voices and share their ideas with a wider audience. This has helped to bring attention to issues that might otherwise have been ignored and to encourage a more diverse range of perspectives in public discourse.
Advocacy and activism: Women and youth advocate for policies and initiatives that promote sustainable development and that address social, economic, and environmental issues. They use their collective voice to hold political leaders and institutions accountable and push for change at local, national, and international levels.
Running for office: Women and youth are increasingly running for political office, challenging the status quo and bringing fresh perspectives to the political process. By taking on leadership roles, they are helping to create a more representative and inclusive democracy.
Building networks: Women and youth are building networks and alliances that support their goals and promote collaboration across different sectors of society. By working together, they can leverage their strengths and impact politics and policy-making more.
Fostering Future Leaders
Empowering today's women and youth in leadership will ensure the creation of sustainable leadership ecosystems for future generations.
When young people see that leadership is attainable, they are more likely to aspire to it.
The same applies to the representation of women in leadership roles. By showing that women can be leaders, we create a pipeline of future female leaders.
Here are a few examples of inspiring women and youth in leadership positions across the globe:
Jacinda Ardern – Prime Minister of New Zealand
Angela Merkel – Chancellor of Germany
Kamala Harris – Vice President of the United States
Tsai Ing-wen – President of Taiwan
Sanna Marin – Prime Minister of Finland
In terms of youth leadership, some notable examples include:
Greta Thunberg – climate activist from Sweden
Malala Yousafzai – education activist from Pakistan
Amika George – menstrual health activist from the UK
Autumn Peltier – clean water activist from Canada
Mari Copeny – environmental activist from the United States.
Overall, the role of women and youth in politics and the leadership of nations is pivotal for the advancement of the country.
It is essential that we create an atmosphere in which political participation opportunities are equally accessible to everyone regardless of age or gender.
Women and youth bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and much-needed energy to their communities transforming former situations.
We can start by initiating conversations at home that make it safe for us to talk about sensitive topics such as gender stereotypes.
As citizens, we should look up successful examples across the globe that show women and youth leading entire nations to prosperity.
The data does not lie: whenever women and youth participate in decision-making roles, more just outcomes follow for entire communities - economically, culturally, and politically.
Join a cause you believe in – volunteer with organizations that allows girls and young people to be part of key decision-making processes of our society.
Let’s take responsibility for creating positive change together!