Young Voices campaigner attends development conference in Mexico

15 May 2014

by Mohamed Ishan Jalil

Young Voices campaigner Ishan asking a question to a panel at a conferenceLast month I went to Mexico for the High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. Over 1,500 heads of state and government, politicians, business leaders and civil society representatives came together to discuss global development priorities.

I felt extremely proud to be representing Young Voices at the event. I was part of a delegation from Restless Development that included a young entrepreneur from Bhutan, a youth activist and poet from Tanzania, and several people from Restless Development in Zambia, Nepal and the UK.

Prior to the meeting, we were given two days of training on the event and the themes that would be covered. This gave us a good opportunity to experience different contexts of effective development cooperation.

The opening of the event was grand, graced by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The many distinguished guests included the president of Mexico, the administrator of the UN Development Programme and the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The first day included focus sessions on various issues, ranging from inclusive development and human rights and development to gender equality and south-to-south cooperation. I participated in several events and met prominent individuals including Justine Greening, UK Secretary of State for International Development, the head of Shell Foundation and the head of Accenture.

Day two was even better. In the session on middle income countries and multilateral development banks, I made a comment about the role of young people for development and I told the story of Young Voices. I talked about how concepts like job fairs for young disabled people could help them become employed in a sustainable way, and become empowered citizens.

The Millennium Development Goals will expire in 2015. At a focus session on youth in the post-2015 development agenda, I directed two questions on inclusive development to the panel. My questions led to discussions about the importance of inclusive development in the context of post-2015 development.

All in all, the connections I made at the conference will definitely help Young Voices and the disabled community for the better. I was able to link up with several youth groups in Mexico, which gave me lots of ideas to go back with to Young Voices in Sri Lanka.

Many of the people I met at the conference are close friends now. We all made one promise to ourselves, regardless of whatever happens, to work together to make the dream of development a reality to all, especially to young people.

Ishan is president of Young Voices Sri Lanka. Find out more on the Young Voices website.

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