Four women in a conference panel

By Wevyn Muganda

At the Global Youth Economic Summit held in Maryland, US between May 16-18, 2023, I spoke about the importance of creating inclusive environments that respect intersectional identities, promote youth voices, and foster economic equity. These are crucial components of any effort to ensure that young people can thrive in today’s world. 

Here are some of the key points I covered:

Changing the Culture

To create truly inclusive environments, we must be willing to reflect on our own privileges and positionalities and how they relate to power (or the lack of it). This means challenging our understanding of how intersecting axes of identity (such as race, gender, and class) can compound or mitigate our experiences of economic equity. 

Keeping the Doors Open

We must also actively work to ensure that marginalized youth have access to economic opportunities and resources. This includes providing mentorship, training programs, and other forms of support that can help young people develop the skills and networks needed to succeed.

Partnering for Impact

Developing inclusive environments requires collaboration and partnership across sectors and disciplines. By working together, we can create holistic solutions that address the root causes of economic inequality and promote sustainable development.

In short, dismantling systemic barriers should be a priority for development work to ensure it is sustainable. By creating truly inclusive environments for young people, we can foster economic equity and promote a brighter future for all. 

The road to achieving this goal is not easy. It requires concerted effort and commitment from all stakeholders, including policymakers, educators, civil society actors, and the youth themselves. We must develop targeted policies and programs that are responsive to the unique needs and circumstances faced by marginalized youth. At the same time, we must recognize the value and diversity that young people bring to the table, and work to amplify their voices and perspectives in all aspects of economic development. Only by taking a comprehensive and inclusive approach can we build a truly equitable future for all. This means challenging traditional power structures, like those that prioritize the voices of older people over youth. 

It also means advocating for policies that support marginalized groups, such as those experiencing poverty or discrimination. Additionally, it is important to listen to the experiences of young people and understand their goals and aspirations. By prioritizing inclusivity, we can create an economic system that works for everyone and not just those in power. Ultimately, this will lead to a more just and equitable world, where every individual has the opportunity to succeed.

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