When Youth Takes the Lead

When Youth Takes the Lead

The 2020 Aurora Dialogues Online event titled “When Youth Takes the Lead” took place on July 30, 2020 and featured the Aurora Prize Selection Committee members Mary Robinson, Ernesto Zedillo and Leymah Gbowee. Nicola Stanisch, Executive Director of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, moderated the discussion that focused on how important it is for the young generation to develop the ability to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and professional goals, and have the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out.

The event was organized in cooperation with the Futures Studio discussion platform. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Aurora Dialogues have gone online in 2020, allowing people from across the globe to join the discussion and contribute to it.

Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, retraced her first steps in politics, recalling the pressure of challenging the norms of a traditional Irish society while still being very young and the way she had coped with it. “You somehow have to have a belief in what you’re doing. Not arrogance, but a modest sense that this is important for many people and this must be changed. I often talk to young people about having the courage of paying the price of doing something is necessary,” she stressed out.

Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and women’s rights advocate, talked about how the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the youth, revealing a deeper commitment and readiness to do their part. She also reflected on the fact that, unfortunately, not all those in charge could have been held to the same high standards: “The youth are mobilized, there’s a lot of solidarity. What I’m seeing in my African communities is that people have stepped up, and most of our governments are acting selfishly. You see all this solidarity just from communities, when those who are leading seem to have no care about what is happening. And the question we want to ask ourselves is, what example are we setting up for these young people?”.

Ernesto Zedillo, Director of Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and former President of Mexico, talked about one vital form of support that can be given to the young people who are willing to lead humanity towards a brighter future: “If you really care about empowerment, it starts with education, because of how significant an opportunity to be educated is. It will mark the probabilities that this person, throughout his or her life cycle, will be able not only to develop as individual, but to offer in his or her capacities as individual to the rest of the society, starting, of course, with his or her own family. So, education is not everything, but it’s crucial.”

Summing up the discussion, the event’s moderator Nicola Stanisch, Executive Director of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, has spoken to the younger audience, urging them to proactively engage in giving back to humanity that, in fact, depends on them. “I want to address the young people that are hopefully watching us and listening to us even though we are far from knowing what this current time means; how we are coming out of it. We know that this virus will collectively affect all of us. And it will be the young people who will have to deal with this world after or with the virus, and it will be up to you to shape that world,” she noted.

You can watch the full video of the discussion below (in English).