International Youth Leadership Day at the United Nations

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On the 22th of August, the World Youth Alliance gave me the opportunity to attend the International Young Leaders Assembly at the United Nations in New York.

The conference theme was “ Moral and Innovative Leadership : Vision, Service and Entrepreneurship” , so it was the perfect occasion to bring together the ideas of the youth from all over the World ( 77 countries were represented) about the future.

In the morning we had the opportunity to listen to  the contributions of many important men and women that are “leaders” as Ambassadors, Chairpersons and various United Nations representatives.  Many had very worthwhile messages to present.

In particular, I appreciated the speech of Ambassador Josephina Ojiambo  , Former Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, because it laid out the main problems of her area , focusing on the education for women ( in countries as Afghanistan just 23 % of women has the possibility to attend the primary school) and the youth employment problems that face 60% of Kenyan youth.

Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General ‘s Envoy on Youth, also had an interesting contribution, wherein he encouraged us that it is possible to act to develop our society, and that the inspiration that should guide us are the universal values which we have to discover.

After a very nice lunch in the famous United Nations cafeteria, the Young Leaders Panel began.  During this session, we learned about the experiences of young men and women that decided to dedicate their time and energies to help those living in poverty through their volunteer initiatives and study activities.

After the Conference concluded, I had a wonderful chance to visit one of the permanent United Nations permanent missions! I decided to visit the Egyptian mission, because I wanted to understand how they conduct their work during this period of political change and revolution.

I was one of about 20 people who met with an Egyptian Diplomat and he showed us that even if there is turmoil and governmental transitioning in the country, the diplomats have to work for the interests of the state and of the population. Talking about the political situation in Egypt, he also told us that now in his country people are really freer than before and this period of transition is normal when there are big revolutions and changes.

It was really a great formative experience. I met very interesting people and I understand how potentially fundamental the work of the United Nations and NGO’s is, but the most important “gift“that I have received from The IYLA is the comprehension that the youth could have the force and the energy to change the world and that everyone has to play his part to create a better world.

By Antonio Verde, a WYA Europe member and intern at the North American Office