This was the program’s most competitive application process yet, with nearly 3,000 applications for 300 spots. It is also the largest and most diverse cohort to join the award-winning program: the group hails from 121 countries and collectively speaks 98 languages. The Young Leaders also represent groups too often marginalized, including 66 people affected by humanitarian emergencies, 29 self-identified indigenous persons and — for the first time — 18 adolescents. It was announced on February 27, 2018.
Women Deliver selected all the Young Leaders for their potential to have a lasting impact on the lives of girls and women. As a group, they have already driven tangible progress on a wide range of issues, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTQ+ rights, peace and security, water and sanitation, gender-based violence, education, maternal health, and political participation.
“Young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow — they are leading today, not least when it comes to changing gender norms and breaking down barriers facing girls and women,” said Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver.
“The Women Deliver Young Leaders Program is here to amplify the voices of youth, maximize the impact and support the incredible work these young advocates are already doing.”
Similar to past years, the 2018 class of Young Leaders will receive training and resources to extend their influence and actively shape programs and policies that affect the health, rights, and well-being of girls, women and young people.
This support includes training through Women Deliver’s Digital University courses, opportunities to speak on national and global stages through the Women Deliver Speakers Bureau, opportunities to apply for advocacy project grants, and a scholarship to the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women, taking place in Vancouver, Canada in June 2019.
“This program is all about authentically engaging young people — and that means ensuring they are present in the halls of power and have seats at the decision-making table,” said Lori Adelman, Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver.
“We are committed to continuing to push the boundaries of what prioritizing youth looks like in the health and development community and beyond.”
Since 2010, Women Deliver’s Young Leaders Program has trained, supported, and elevated 400 youth advocates who are tackling the greatest challenges facing girls, women, and young people in their communities. In just the past 2 years Women Deliver Young Leaders have been appointed to 10 influential commissions and boards, had 335 meetings with decision-makers and made more than 180 media appearances.
Young Leaders from the 2016 class attest to the difference the Young Leaders Program has made to their advocacy efforts.
“The Young Leaders Program is the reason for many firsts in my career as an advocate/activist. [It] provided me an avenue to improve how I advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights in the Philippines,” said Anthony Lopez, a Young Leader from the Philippines.
“I have grown more mature as a young leader and it has helped keep my passion for SRHR burning.”
“Prior to the programme, I was a vocal advocate in a half-filled room. The Young Leaders Program has positioned me to explore my youth voice across dynamic global platforms where it matters most,” said Olaoluwa Abagun, a Young Leader from Nigeria.
The full list of the 2018 class of Young Leaders can be found here.