Five African youth are among 17 young advocates recognized by the United Nations for their work helping the world combat challenges and playing a part in the push to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Unveiled on Friday, the young leaders — aged between 18 and 29 years — represent diverse voices of young people from every region of the world, and are credited with inspiring millions of young people around the world to support the SDGs.
The five Africans named in the list of 17 include; Vanessa Nakate (Uganda), Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi (Nigeria), Mariama Djambony Badji (Senegal), Loay Radwan (Egypt) and Satta Sheriff (Liberia).
According to Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, amid unprecedented times, the 2020 Class are a “clear example” of how the youth are leading the way in shaping a more sustainable and inclusive future for all.
“Despite being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, young people around the world continue to demonstrate immense resilience, resourcefulness and leadership in finding innovative solutions to recover better and achieve the SDGs”, she said.
23-year-old Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist, grabbed headlines earlier this year for being erroneously cropped out of a photo by a media agency after joint press conference in Davos alongside fellow activists including Greta Thunberg, Loukina Tille, Luisa Neubauer and Isabelle Axelsson.
She first came to the limelight in January 2019 for her solitary strike in her country against inaction on the climate crisis. She staged a solo protest outside Uganda’s Parliament for months, thereby drawing the country’s attention to climate crisis and eventually inspiring other youth to join in calls for action. Nakate founded the Youth for Future Africa and the likewise Africa-based Rise Up Movement.
Satta Fatumata Sheriff is a Child Rights Advocate, first elected female Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament and Executive Director of Youth in Action for Peace and Empowerment (YAPE) a children and youth driven Nongovernmental Organization founded to advocate for Liberian Children, girls and other vulnerable groups in society.
Worth noting, Fatumata started her activism aged just 9 years old.
Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi
Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi is the founder of Stand to End Rape (STER), aimed at raising awareness on sexual abuse in Nigeria. The West African country has been dogged by sexual abuse for some time, prompting protests in Abuja and other cities earlier this year.
The multi-award winning gender equality advocate boasts of six years experience in deploying effective solutions to challenge systemic social barriers that promote violence against women and girls and utilising social and behaviour change communication to improve SGBV knowledge, attitudes and practices in order to achieve Gender Equality.
Osowobi’s initiative seeks to improve awareness of violence against women and provide support to victims of sexual assault.
Mariama Djambony Badji
22-year-old Mariama Djambony Badji is co-founder and CEO of DNA SARL, a construction company that offers living environments using natural and local materials. As a civil engineer and passionate about the environment, she’s currently working on the construction of safe, comfortable and eco-friendly housing.
Since 2015, she has been volunteering with Africa Feliz Senegal, a non-profit association that aims to fight against poverty and irregular emigration through skills training for young people and women.
21-year-old environmental engineer Loay Radwan is the CEO & Cofounder at G-Beetle, a rising startup in the AgriTech Field, which aims to rationalize the usage of water in irrigation. The invention will help farmers monitor among other things crop temperature and soil water content. This is essential in measuring the efficiency of irrigation systems and the knowledge of what parts of the farms require more attention.