Young Professionals at the Centre Stage of Development

MY JOURNEY AS A DEVELOPMENT ENTHUSIAST 

Just like the former US Senator, Robert Kennedy posits “The world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease” 

These words of the Senator reflect the motivation behind my dive into development works 10 years ago. In 2009, I founded an organization – DYNAMICS IMPACT to drive the agenda of the developmental goals in Nigeria with a core focus on Youth Leadership Development, Human Capital Development and the Economic Empowerment of Women. 

Realizing the need for young people to be at the forefront of driving change, my team and I at Dynamics Impact launched our first project in 2009 to inspire young school leavers in Lagos State. This project was tagged the Lagos Teenagers and School Leavers Summit (LTSLS) and was held at the Edu Hall of the Faculty of Education, the University of Lagos on the 12th of December, 2009. This project with the endorsement of the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty, the Lagos State Ministry of Education got the support of various corporate brands and organizations. The event in 2009 marked our debut into development works. With this project, we saw the need for corporate organizations, businesses, and individuals alike to collaborate with the government to achieve the development goals. We advocated that organizations must put a commitment to development goals at the heart of her sustainability plan. 

For the past nine years as a young professional in Humanitarian works and as a Policy Lawyer, I have been at the forefront of advocacy for the development goals. Through my organization Dynamics Impact, I have led different youth consultations on the agenda within the global goals of fostering sustainable development. In 2015, I served on the Youth Working Group for the Global Youth Consultation on the World Humanitarian Summit in Doha, Qatar convened by the then United Nations Secretary-General, Banki-Moon which birthed the Doha Youth Declaration on the World Humanitarian Summit which held the following year in Geneva, Switzerland. Also, I facilitated the first Post 2015 Consensus Youth Forum in Nigeria gathering the priority areas of Nigerian youths for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to prioritize, which was then sent as a report to the 75th General Assembly of the UN to catalyze enormous positive change by 2030. 

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I am committed to promoting the cause of peace, justice, and equality- these are virtues that are at the forefront of human rights. My passion for justice, peace, and human right informed my choice of a career path in law and as a practitioner now, I use the instrument of the law and my knowledge and skills to amplify my voice of advocacy. 

Based on my works in Peacebuilding and Security, I served as the Chairperson of the House Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the First Euro-Africa Youth Parliament in Berlin, Germany in 2014 where I facilitated the political debate involving the participation of 51 European and African Countries on Peace and Security and thus advocated for a permanent seat for Africa on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The resolution from this parliament was sent to the African Union, European Union and the United Nations to influence decisions, policies and development outcomes 

I am most passionate about making sustainable Development Goals count for women and girls. Accelerating the rate at which the extreme poor become economically secure is key to a just and sustainable world. And investing in the world’s poorest people- women – is fundamental to economic development. When the investment is prioritized for the economic empowerment of women and girls, everybody wins, as no nation can experience true development when half of her population is left behind. 

Through my fellowship as a Women Deliver Young Leader, I advocate for gender equality through the economic empowerment of women and girls. Women Deliver is an organization committed to promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally. Also, as a member of the Empower Women Community of the United Nations committed to empowering women and girls to achieve their full economic potential, I initiated and launched a Women in Business Empowerment Scheme project in 2018. The first edition of this project empowered 20 women in the beauty industry with the sum of $1, 500 to scale up their businesses. The women are currently undergoing mentorship sequel to the completion of their training in January 2019. 

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As a Member of the Lagos Hub of the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum, I launched the project named MONEY SMART INITIATIVE FOR GIRLS, a financial literacy initiative targeted at empowering girls in the Ocala underserved rural community of Lagos Island. This provides a comprehensive financial education to equip them for a powerful future and help them to mature into financially secure and economically independent Women. 

At Dynamics Impact, we have over the years led the campaign for young people to be drivers of the development goals. We have advocated for meaningful youth participation and involvement of professionals as development champions and gladiators. We believe that to make the most of your professional life, you can achieve your personal, professional and social aspiration as you connect to the unique opportunities and unparalleled possibilities that the sustainable Goals- SDGs presents. 

The positive returns of our participation in development programs and projects as young professionals are far-reaching and multi-layered. Certainly, young people who find ongoing opportunities to engage in development programs in their organizations, communities, and the world realize personal growth and long-term benefits. These range from health and psychosocial benefits, to a sense of belonging, to 21st-century workplace skills. Young people’s participation also builds cultural competencies and skills in recognizing and proactively addressing oppression, as well as civic competencies like social trust, respect, and intergroup understanding, all of which are critically important for workplace success and effective participation as citizens. 

When as professionals we are meaningfully involved in advancing the development goals and agenda, we change not only our own lives but also the systems in which our lives are situated. We practice and apply skills for building a democratic society that is based on human rights. We develop long-lasting skills that contribute to greater social cohesion, less crime, more stable communities, more effective workplaces, and better decision-making. Our work ripples outward from the local to the global, from individual empowerment to collective social change. 

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By initiating or volunteering for development goals projects in our communities, our commitment can also be a powerful strategy for creating the kinds of workplaces and organizations that our society needs, for today and tomorrow. When we participate as workplace professionals, our involvement disrupts patterns of exclusion, it contributes to a more just society. It opens up workplaces, civic spaces, and other institutions to be more inclusive of all kinds of diversity, not only age. And that’s good not only for us as young people, but for all those who have the bravery and vision to encourage meaningful youth participation, even if it means sometimes leaving our comfort zone, or stepping aside and sharing power, or giving up a specific way of working as it has been traditionally understood. 

Research shows that diverse workplaces, for example, fuel innovation. Leaders and employees who understand power-sharing, and who have experience breaking down barriers of exclusion, will be positioned to harness the diversity of innovation of young professional in their organization for the strength that it is. Inclusive leaders make better decisions, are better at collaboration, and see better performance and reduced absenteeism among their employees. 

From my works in the development space over the last decade, I understand that increasing the political and social will for the realization of the development goals through strong rights-based policies and programs, requires sustained and strategic advocacy and that we as young professionals play a critical role by applying pressure on governments to meet obligations through people-centred policies and influencing donor commitments for securing sustainable outcomes. I believe that joining forces together will help us move closer and faster to our goal of building a better world for humanity to live and thrive.

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