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Why young people are speaking up

10 September 2020, Impact of Our Work

And why adults need to listen

Kupakwashe Matangira is a former Save the Children Youth Ambassador. In 2018, she joined six other Youth Ambassadors with a drive and passion to make change and create a brighter future for their generation and those to come. Here she explains why youth voices need to be an important part of decision-making: 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”. Before he died defending his cause, Martin Luther King warned us of humanity’s cursed fate if we do not fight against injustice. Humanity as we know it, is being challenged and we live in an incredibly troubled world. Injustice is everywhere and comes in all shapes and sizes and we do not have to go very far to find it. You only have to turn on your TV, scroll through your phone or listen to the radio to understand just how much our world is hurting. 

From wars that cause untold devastation, to unimaginable poverty and rising sea levels. Our world is far from ideal and all of these crises demand action. But what role do young people play in all of this?

I believe today’s young people know our world is imperfect. But we cannot afford to sink into the tide of global inaction by remaining silent when our world is under threat. Our world is hurting. Yet, in this hurt, young people demand change.  

Society often deems young people to be under-qualified to speak about the world around us. However, young people have shown that we are nuanced, inquisitive and diverse- we will not let our voices be suffocated by those in power because we care deeply about the world around us. 

Young people, from every inch and crevice of the world, are renowned for developing opinions that create the greatest good for us all. Now more than ever, young people are aware of the political landscapes that challenge our world and are speaking truth to power.

Kupakwashe Matangira

You only have to look at the Friday’s for Future movement to see this ingenuity in practice. We are fighting for the things that matter, but it is frustrating when adults refuse to listen to us simply because we are young. Young people add a wealth of value to society and our voices, thoughts and opinions must be taken seriously by those walking in the corridors of power. Adults must be accountable to young people because it is through consultation and collaboration that we will create a better world. 

It is my hope that the voices of young people are not only listened to, but are respected and understood. Our opinions need to be heard, not only by those in power, but the adults around us. 

I wish for a world were adults realise that it is not our age that qualifies us to speak truth to power, but rather the mere fact that we are all human beings and it is our right to speak up for those whose voices have been reduced to a whisper or to create for the world we want to see. 

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