What does being a young person mean to you?

By Global Fund for Children | August 14, 2020 | Africa & The Middle East, East & Southeast Asia, Europe & Eurasia, South Asia, The Americas | Youth Empowerment

According to the United Nations, there are 1.2 billion young people between 15 and 24 years old worldwide, making up 15% of the global population. Ninety percent of the world’s youth live in developing countries.

Although young people often face poverty, injustice, and discrimination, they remain resilient and determined to be heard. They represent our hopes for a better future and, at the same time, they are a global force for positive change today.

In celebration of International Youth Day 2020, our team asked youth from across the world: “What does being a young person mean to you?”

In English and Spanish, this is what they told us:


Katie, United States

What does being a gender-nonconforming young person mean to you?

“It means breaking gender norms, rising against patriarchal structures, and being radically me every step of the way. Your expectations, comfort, and limitations don’t define me. I do.”


Paty, MExico

¿Qué significa ser una mujer indígena y joven para ti?

“Ser mujer indígena es un orgullo, pero es también una búsqueda constante. Es aprender, desaprender y trabajar todos los días para ser libre. Y defender cada espacio, cada centímetro de libertad ganado. Con otros y otras jóvenes como yo.

“Ser mujer indígena es perder el miedo, encontrar tu valor y combatir la violencia y la discriminación. Es todo el tiempo irte descubriendo a ti misma.”

Paty, Mexico.
Saro, Pakistan

What does being a young person mean to you?

“Being a young person means opportunities and space to make change to make this world an equal and better place for all.”


María, MExico

¿Qué significa ser una mujer joven para ti?

“Ser mujer joven significa tener valor, porque nos atrevemos a salir y a existir en un mundo que nos mata, nos excluye, nos silencia. Es una lucha constante.

“Es salir a la calle y encontrar en la mirada de otras mujeres la fuerza, la experiencia y el apoyo para superar el reto de cada día.

“Significa esperanza, alegría por la vida, sonrisas y canciones. Es agradecer los derechos conquistados gracias a la lucha de otras mujeres. Es el amor por mi madre y mis abuelas, y mi búsqueda para dejar a las mujeres que vienen detrás de mí un mundo más justo y más humano.”


Solomon, Zimbabwe

What does being a young person mean to you?

“Being bold and always fight for what you believe in no matter the intimidation and threats from state apparatus. You remain resolute and firm.”


Harold, Honduras

¿Qué significa ser joven para ti?

“Ser joven es ser el futuro y el presente. Son sueños que van caminando. Sueños en progreso. Que se van abriendo paso en medio del caos, la desesperanza y la falta de oportunidades. Ser joven es, muchas veces, sentirse solo. Es intentar escapar todos los días de la violencia que te rodea.

“Ser joven es tener la energía y el inconformismo para cambiar el mundo. Ser rebeldes, luchar contra esas visiones que nos pintan como criminales. Ser joven es la creatividad y la defensa de la vida. Ser joven es ser artista.”


Marcos, Brazil

What does being a young person mean to you?

“Being a young person means having the responsibility to innovate and contribute to the improvement of the world.”


Keyla, Honduras

¿Qué significa ser una mujer joven para ti?

“Para mí ser mujer joven ha representado un doble desafío, enfrentar una doble discriminación: por ser joven y por ser mujer.

“Cuando se es mujer joven la rebeldía se vuelve necesaria, para desafiar los patrones impuestos, para hacer valer nuestros derechos. Para luchar por disfrutar del espacio público y privado. Ser mujer joven es alzar la voz, es combatir y rechazar la violencia.

“Ser mujer joven es apostarle a la esperanza, luchar desde el amor contra un sistema patriarcal, racista, adultocentrista. Significa imaginar nuevos caminos y nuevos mundos más incluyentes y humanos. Y sumar esfuerzos para hacerlos realidad.”


Leonor, Portugal

What does being a young person mean to you?

“Being a young person means to have the responsibility of fighting for a better future, but also to teach who thinks that is not possible, whatever the age. Young people are more important than we think; it is the generation that will take care of the world.”


Alberto, El Salvador

¿Qué significa ser un joven migrante para ti?

“Ser joven migrante significa nuevos comienzos, nuevos caminos. Es la vida que se reinventa.

“Es la posibilidad de escribir tu propia historia. Una historia que pueda inspirar a otros y a otras a luchar por sus sueños.

“Es caminar con esperanza para dejar atrás el sufrimiento. Es cuestionar y cuestionarte.

“Es cambiar todo el tiempo. Ser joven es no quedarse quieto.”

Alberto, El Salvador.

What does being a young person mean to you?

“The magic of youth is the undeniable passion and grit that it carries. Young people dare to dream and imagine a world different than what was handed to them. Why not challenge the status quo? Why not stand up and raise your voice? Couple that magic with direction, and young people will leave this place better than how they found it.”


Gerardo, United States

¿Qué significa ser un joven migrante para ti?

“Ser joven migrante es todo el tiempo sentirse un extraño. No saber quién eres.

“Enfrentarse al racismo y a la discriminación. Es tener siempre barreras que superar.

“Es no tener nada y tenerlo todo. Tener vitalidad, reír y divertirte. Cuestionar a los que buscan silenciarte. A esas voces que te dicen: ‘así es como tienes que ser’.

“Ser joven es combatir el silencio. Es hacer ruido. Es saber gritar.”


At Global Fund for Children, we partner with community-based organizations that guide young people to shape their future; advance their rights; and lead healthy, productive lives. We are committed to supporting youth-led social change initiatives, as we firmly believe in their potential to generate systems that fully respect the rights of children and youth, build inclusive communities and safe spaces for young people, and promote youth leadership that inspires other young people to be agents of change.


Header photo was provided by Ashanti Perú. 

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