"What is the greatest global challenge facing youth, and how can American youth help to address it?"
I believe that the greatest global challenge facing youth is education, particularly for girls and young women. So many of the different problems facing countries around the world can be solved through better, more accessible education for all citizens of that country. Time and again studies show that, as the World Bank puts it “there is no investment more effective for achieving development goals than educating girls” or as UNICEF says when discussing Millennium Development Goals “few of the goals will be met unless there is significant progress in girls’ education.” This is because uneducated women tend to be more vulnerable to poverty, hunger, violence and preventable diseases. Meanwhile, educated women tend to have better lives, and have children that are more properly nourished, are also educated and that will be more productive members of society. When good, accessible education is provided to all citizens of a country, the ultimate beneficiaries are not just the individuals who are recipients of the education, but the country as a whole.
American youth have an incredible opportunity in today’s society. We are trend setters for the rest of the world. Whether you look at our fashion or our music, our social media use or the slang words that we popularize, we are change agents in this world. We are the ones who made Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga worldwide phenomena with our age group. We are the ones who made wearing jeans and T-shirts be the “cool” look for young people all over the world. And we are the ones who first introduced the world to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter which has now been embraced and so effectively used to bring about change by youth in places like Tunisia and Egypt. Our trends, our judgment and our voice is not just being heard, but actively sought out on a daily basis by youth all over the world. Therefore, it is up to us to take a stance on issues that we think are important. If we effectively mobilize ourselves towards the cause of improving quality education for all youth in the world, we can make it happen. We can utilize fashion to make our point, as Livestrong so effectively did with their yellow bracelets. We can utilize music to send our message, as the Black Eyed Peas did with their hit song, “Where is the Love?” And we can use our social media skills to reach out to our peers and get them to action in all corners of the world. If we unite, and put our minds to it, you and I, and all other American youth, can truly change the face of worldwide education; improving access and quality of education for all citizens and in so doing, helping to make their country, and our world a better place.