Meet the young leaders of tomorrow | Sunday Observer

Meet the young leaders of tomorrow

The Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals are 17 global citizens who have been recognised for their outstanding leadership in their efforts to achieve the Goals. The 17 were selected from more than 18,000 nominations and will work with the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth on efforts to engage young people in the realisation of the Goals.

Anthony Ford-Shubrook

Anthony Ford-Shubrook is a 30 year-old from the United Kingdom and a lifelong advocate for disability rights and access. At age 17, Anthony made legal history when he successfully lobbied to attend college in London. As the Youth Representative of AbleChildAfrica, he campaigns for youth with disabilities to live full and independent lives everywhere.

Born with cerebral palsy, Anthony Ford-Shubrook is determined to empower people with disabilities from all walks of life: “I never let my disability prevent me from achieving my goals.”

At age 17, Anthony proved this when he made legal history in the UK. While he was initially disallowed from attending college in London because using a climbing wheelchair would pose a health and safety problem for other students, Anthony successfully lobbied to attend, laying the groundwork for the Special Education Needs and Disability Act.

Now 30, Anthony serves as the Youth Ambassador for AbleChildAfrica, a non-profit organization that has helped thousands of disabled children gain access to inclusive healthcare, education, and sports. Anthony has also conducted research on access to education for children with disabilities. His tireless work to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities has been featured at major international events and conferences. Most recently, Anthony joined a delegation of people with disabilities at the World Humanitarian Summit, where his message was heard loud and clear:

“I want to ensure that the recent historical mention of disabled people in the Sustainable Development Goals is upheld. I am committed and dedicated to working in as many ways as possible to achieve this vision of an inclusive world.”

Trisha Shetty

Trisha Shetty, a 26-year-old from India, launched SheSays in 2015, a platform to educate, rehabilitate and empower women to take direct action against sexual assault in India. SheSays uniquely provides tools and resources for women, including access to legal, medical and psychological support.

“I decided to do something when I realized that I could go online to find information about restaurants, but for victims of sexual abuse, there was nothing.” One year later, SheSays was born. A non-profit organisation with a full team of 'fabulous' under-25s, SheSays provides a portal that educates, rehabilitates and empowers women to take direct action against sexual violence in India. Trisha and her team work with established institutions across the education, entertainment and healthcare sectors to build a network of support that recognizes all levels of sexual abuse and provides the necessary means to fight it. So far, the organization has successfully engaged more than 60,000 young people through educational workshops at urban universities, its website, and music festivals as part of its endeavor for the safety of women.

Despite the daily threats she receives in reaction to her work, Trisha, who describes herself as “rational and resilient,” refuses to stand down. Instead, the SheSays team is tackling increasingly controversial issues, including the criminalization of marital rape. When asked about her vision for the future, Trisha sets her sights on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality: “Acknowledging that there is inequality is an important first step. But in the end, I hope SheSays will be redundant because there is no longer a need for it.”

Karan Jerath

19-year-old Karan Jerath is from the United States. Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill near his home in Texas, he was determined to find a solution. Karan invented a ground-breaking, subsea wellhead capping device that contains oil spills at the source, showing the power of youth as innovators to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 on oceans.

Born in India and raised in Malaysia, Karan moved to the United States as a “shy and optimistic” 13-year-old. When the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill – the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history – happened 30 minutes away from where Karan lived in Texas, he was determined to take action. “I realized that much smaller spills are happening on a daily basis and slowly destroying our oceans and environment. I had to find a solution.” And he did.

While still in high school, Karan invented a device that contains oil spills at the source. This patent-pending device can collect oil, gas and water gushing from a broken well on the seafloor, providing an effective, temporary solution in the case of an unforeseen subsea oil spill. For his invention, Karan won the Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair’s 2015 competition, and was selected as the youngest honoree on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Energy list.

Nikki Fraser

25-year-old Nikki Fraser serves as the Youth Representative from the British Columbia Native Women’s Associations and the National Youth Representative for the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She is a tireless advocate for indigenous women and girls in Canada and worldwide.

“My Aunt Dorothy and my cousin Samantha are among countless indigenous women and girls who have been stolen from our nation,” asserts Nikki, the 25-year-old mother of two from Tk’emlups Te Secwepemc, one of the 17 bands within the Secwepemc Nation. Officially, the figure stands at around 1,200. “I do this work in their honour. It is my mission to advocate on behalf of missing and murdered indigenous women who deserve a voice.”

Nikki serves as the National Youth Representative at the Native Women’s Association of Canada, an organization that seeks to advance the wellbeing of aboriginal women and girls, as well as their families and communities, through activism, policy analysis and advocacy. Nikki has advocated in numerous fora, including the 2016 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and recently interviewed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, discussing with him the challenges faced by indigenous communities and efforts to safeguard their rights. Prime Minister Trudeau echoed Nikki’s call to action: “Indigenous lives matter.”