31 July 2017

[BLOG] Special Youth Series: International Development Needs Youth Voices

By Scarlett Hawkins

As the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) swing into their second year, a new focus across a number of civil society organizations and policy-makers has begun to emerge.  Now, more than ever, the international development community seeks to engage adolescents and youth on global issues.


As this new era of development finds its feet amidst 17 bold objectives, an issue has begun to emerge around the notion of youth engagement. Whilst the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era did a great deal to kick-start youth engagement in development, the platforms allocated to youth were oftentimes tokenistic. Despite the rapid progress occurring globally over the last ten, fifteen, and fifty years, international development arenas struggle to keep up with changes.  Opportunities to innovate are often missed as more conventional practices are given precedence.


The 2030 Agenda has been proactive about placing the rights of youth at the center of its ethos, but this is not enough.  To truly represent the interests of youth in emerging countries, there must be a cross-functional, cross-cultural representation of these exact demographics on the global stage.


Wellbeing for Women Africa (WBW) was founded with the explicit purpose of catalyzing youth voices on global issues.  Our platform was crafted to create an accountable, accessible network of Youth Partners from across Africa to speak on the International Development topics that are closest to their hearts.  These insights, which are published on the WBW platform, are disseminated not just across an exclusively youth network, or even an exclusively African network, but around the world – breaking the shackles of echo chambers, and providing an opportunity for change-makers to be accountable to those they seek to support.


The International Development space has set an ambitious and audacious objective for itself with the SDGs.  Their securement cannot be achieved if we remain married to the same mindsets of yesteryear.  However, we at Wellbeing for Women Africa do believe that with innovation, accountability, and meaningful engagement of all demographics that the sector aims to represent, the SDGs can be achieved.


So much the luckier we are that Africa’s young leaders recognize this need… and they are ready.


Click here to read the unabridged version of this article.



As Every Woman Every Child seeks to create global youth engagement in all international development spaces, young writers are invited to apply for a grant with Wellbeing for Women Africa to discuss key issues affecting women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing. Pitch to WBW to influence the global conversation with a tap-tap-click of the keyboard! Engage with trending issues of Africaʼs youth and read the insights of WBW Youth Partners. Content resulting from this partnership is being published as part of a Special Blog Series leading up to International Youth Day 2017 and beyond.

About the Author

Scarlett Hawkins is a Communications consultant and author hailing from Melbourne, Australia.

Scarlett cut her teeth in Communications through advocacy of workers’ rights and youth engagement in policy development, before becoming a co-founder and Communications Director of a national gender equality organization.

Scarlett joined Global Office Consulting upon moving to London, where she has devised creative and strategic Communications and Advocacy for the International Development agenda at the 61st United Nations Commission for the Status of Women, and the 71st United Nations General Assembly, and the 4th Women Deliver Global Conference.

Scarlett holds a Bachelors degree in International Politics & Counter-Terrorism from Monash University and Université Jean Moulin Lyon III.  She has written four novels, toured internationally as a spoken word poet, and scribed numerous articles for publications including Expedia, The Big Smoke, Uncommonlot, Mills & Boon, and Feast Melbourne on the subjects of International Development, gender equality, political discourse, social justice, food, travel, Southeast Asian politics, the art of writing, and mental health awareness.

As we seek to create global youth engagement in all international development spaces, Every Woman Every Child is partnering with Wellbeing for Women Africa,  encouraging young writers to discuss discuss key issues affecting women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing.