Many young women came to the Summit eager to be tech entrepreneurs. Photo Credit: Tanya D'Lima
On a sunny Thursday earlier this month in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the fifth largest city in Pakistan, the energy at the venue...
"This dengue has become a calamity," Saad Azeem said in September 2011. He wasn't exaggerating. Azeem, a 45 year-old police officer, was "at home suffering from the fever and mourning the death of his elderly father."
On a Friday morning in December of 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor, started his day to sell fruits and vegetables from his cart in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. But he didn't have a permit to sell and a policewoman asked him to hand over his cart. He refused. She slapped him.
Bouazizi then walked straight to a government building and set himself on fire. In Tunisia, "dignity is more important than bread," said his sister. That same day, protests began, quickly spreading via mobile and internet. Soon demonstrations were everywhere in the country. About a month later, the president of Tunisia fled.
Tunisia inspired many in the Middle East to speak up and protest. We know this phenomenon as the Arab Spring. These protesters, mostly young, challenged their governments in at least 20 countries. Young people demanded accountability, opportunities and transparency.
Throughout history, young people have used protests to hold governments accountable. Now, their roles in governments are front and center. Today's youth are poised for greatness: not only are they the largest demographic in the world but they're also the most connected and educated generation.
Leaders realize climate change or corruption can't be addressed without youth's involvement.
That is why a group of young professional at the World Bank Group organized a summit recently to discuss how they can help governments be more open and responsive. Youth, experts, senior leaders of World Bank Group, and members of civil society organizations convened to exchange ideas.
At the summit, Mario Marcel, Senior Director of Governance Global Practice said that according to a World Bank Group Survey, citizens regardless of their location, age or gender want their governments to be more transparent, collaborative and responsive.
I'm not surprised by the results. Whether you are living in Netherlands or Nigeria, I'm sure you want a government that works for you. To make it work, young people need to learn skills that will empower them to hold governments accountable. Skills like how to develop e-governance tools or access information--those were taught at workshops being held at the summit.
Governments and youth can be mutually beneficial partners. When 50 percent of the world's population is 25 years or younger, if governments can be about youth and be partly made by youth, then only governments can truly become in Lincoln's word: "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
Today, young people have the responsibility to do everything they can to ensure that in years to come no other youth would have to be so desperate and burn himself/herself like the way Mohamed Bouazizi did.
It's not easy. We know. It will require passion, persistence, prudence. But it can be done.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the...
Talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. That's the conventional belief.
Today, after listening to some amazing young people speak about their lives at Thursday's End Poverty event at the World Bank, I'm convinced that opportunities are omnipresent.
On a rainy Friday morning during the first week of this month, a young woman got on the stage of the auditorium in Queen Elizabeth Conference Center in Central London to talk about open government.
Even though it was windy and dark outside, Vivienne Suerte-Cortez was smiling and full of energy on the stage. Suerte-Cortez is an accountability and transparency expert from the Philippines. Dressed in her gray jacket, she started to talk about Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA), a project in the Philippines that encourages citizens to participate in the audit process for government projects and explores how to ensure efficient use of public resources by the government.
She stood in front of the stage that read "Open Government Partnership Summit," a gathering to celebrate the success of the programs and projects that are opening up governments around the world. Suerte-Cortez was one of the seven "Bright Spot Finalists" at the summit -- all of them talked about what they have done in their countries to make their government more accountable and open. Bright Spot Finalists are a group of young people who are pioneering open government movement worldwide.
As I was listening to Suerte-Cortez speak about how she worked to open up her government, I couldn't help but think about my own country, Nepal. In 2011, I went to a government office in Nepal to pay land taxes on behalf of my family. After looking at my papers, the officer with a potbelly said they were not filled out properly. Surprised, I asked him what was wrong. He stood up and asked me to follow him. Outside his office, he politely offered help to fill out my "papers properly" if I gave him some cash.
I refused and threatened to contact his manager. Unexpectedly, he said that if I brought my updated papers the next day, he could process my application. Cases like this happen every day in Nepal. My landlocked country just overcame civil war and is one of the poorest on the planet. It is also, unfortunately, one of the most corrupt countries. This year Transparency International ranked Nepal 139th out of 176 in its Corruption Index report.
As a traditionally feudal society, we are working to establish a stable democracy. The idea of transparency is new but gaining traction in the populace. The World Bank recently supported the launch of the Open Nepal initiative. Making sure government records are accessible and comprehensible can be a key to combating corruption.
Young people like Suerte-Cortez are going to be one of the main drivers of open governments globally. At the end of the Open Government Summit in London, Suerte-Cortez's project won the Bright Spot award for engaging citizens to hold their leaders accountable.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments...
A year and two days ago today, a teenage girl was riding the school bus in northern Pakistan. Suddenly, a Taliban gunman got on the bus. He shot her. She almost died.
Today, she spoke about her passionate and courageous fight for girls' education with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in Washington, D.C. Dressed in an orange tunic and black head scarf, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai eloquently expressed her profound views about girls' education around the world.
"I want to help those children who are out of school," said Malala, sitting on a stage whose backdrop read "I Am Malala," the title of her new book released this week.
She answered a variety of questions from the audience, some personal, some about her cause. She said even though her favorite subject is physics, she is weak in it. She shared her experience at home about how her young brothers at times don't understand the importance of the work she is doing: empowering girls.
Malala was touching and articulate, but also humble and funny.
"You have become an agent of change," said Kim to Malala. He announced a donation of $200,000 to the Malala Fund, her organization that helps girls around the world achieve education.
Even though the world has made remarkable progress in the last few decades, 32 million out of 62 million children who are not in school are girls. Malala wants to change that.
Educating girls, equipping them with skills to compete in the global economy, is the right thing to do. It is also smart economics. Women represent 40 percent of the global workforce. Yet they remain one of the most underused resources. This can be changed if we start to do everything we can to ensure that each and every girl has access to quality education, as Malala advocates.
There is already overwhelming evidence about why it's imperative to educate girls. A girl with an extra year of education can earn up to 20 percent more as an adult. Educating women has already prevented more than 4 million children's deaths between 1970 and 2009.
I have seen firsthand the disadvantages and advantages of girls' education. As a first-generation college-educated young man, I have been able to understand in retrospect the struggles my mother faced when she was raising my siblings and me. She wasn't able to help us with our homework or problems we faced in school. Worse than that, as I have written before, she has faced difficulties in doing basic things like opening a bank account or using a phone.
In some ways, my country, Nepal, is like Pakistan. Both have traditionally repressed girls and women. But things are starting to change. Net primary enrollment has increased to 95 percent and gender parity has been achieved in Nepal. My country has also been able to cut in half the number of mothers who die in childbirth.
It is hard to not be grateful for the momentum Malala has created about why the world needs to immediately act to empower girls. As we face global challenges, it is more important than ever for us ensure that all humanity is ready to tackle common problems. We can't address issues like climate change or youth employment without making sure girls are educated and empowered.
Malala represents the aspirations of girls from Bangladesh to Brazil. She is that voice that shakes our moral conscience and asks us to do what we should have already done: ensure no other girls face threats in an attempt to get education like Malala did.
Today, on the International Day of the Girl Child, let's remember Malala's vision and make it a reality.
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There were thunderstorms. There was a strike. And there was the hackathon to end violence against women -- all happening on the same day in Kathmandu, Nepal.
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Youth Forum Breakfast on January 14, 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
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Today, 43 percent of the world's population is 25 years old or younger. This young group is impatient and ready to change the world. Change for this generation "has everything to do with people and very little to do with political ideology," according to a new global survey,
I arrived at Foley Square at 6:30 a.m., expecting chaos. Surprisingly, the mood was calm. Some tired and hungry former Zuccotti occupiers were sleeping on the floor of the square as the sun rose. Cops were standing along the park as if they were merely bystanders.
Others recalled the event...