Today is the international Youth day, a day to highlight issues surrounding youth. I want to use the day to celebrate youth; to create awareness of the importance of their participation and how youth led activism can change the status quo.
Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the European Youth Meeting hosted by Amnesty in Poland. I met 35 activists from 16 different countries and had the opportunity to present the HRE guide and run the workshops with them. The experience boosted my convictions of the importance of giving room for youth to speak their mind, to educate and empower them to take further steps in the fight against torture. The workshops opened up for debate, sharing ideas and creative problem solving.
After 4 days of workshops and presentations of the campaign the youth took to the streets to protest against torture. The action was held in Warszawa and highlighted two main issues, how torture can happen to anyone and how we can stop torture by standing together. After two hours we managed to gather more than 500 signatures, a great accomplishment and a great contribution towards creating awareness of the campaigning.
I believe that this accomplishment is one of many steps towards ending torture. I believe that when youth speak up and show dissent they are heard and able to stop this barbaric and inhumane practice. I believe that when youth are given the right tools they are empowered to channel their energy and motivation towards influencing governments and decision makers. I believe that the voice of determined youth can and will alter the status quo.
In the words of Maragret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”