GPE youth leaders are young education activists based in GPE partner and donor countries. They are raising awareness of the barriers to education and aiming to increase the ambition of leaders for financing education and development. They are supporting GPE’s financing campaign to transform education systems in their countries and around the world.
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman, age 19, are Pakistani-Canadian twin activists, journalists and filmmakers based near Toronto, Canada. They became activists when they were 8 years old in their village in Pakistan, and began inspiring girls there to continue their education. Some of their most notable work includes founding ‘The World with MNR’, their interviews with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, and the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde. They were filmmakers for Disney’s “Dream Big Princess” project in 2018 and also released a documentary on girls' education in Pakistan in 2019. They have received several awards like the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award (now the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers). They see education as one of the key steps to empowering young women and creating strong foundations for societies to flourish.
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Armel Azihar Sly-Vania
Armel is a youth Educational Activist, advocate for girls women's equality and SRHR advocate. She worked with IMARA Comoros NGO where the crossroads of STEM, Arts, and leadership meet. She is the media consultant of the NGO and the leader of the STEM program which teaches scratch, computer programming, and more. Armel believes transforming education is important because we need to prepare children and youth to have internationally competitive minds and be creative citizens.
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- Podcast: Media interview in France
Jonathan is a 24-year-old Danish youth advocate and student who promotes youth-centered leadership and aspires to empower youth with youth-led solutions. He has, among other things, served as an Ambassador for the Global Goals in Denmark, pushing the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals in civil society and public life together with The World’s Best News and the Danish Youth Council. Jonatan is based in Copenhagen and he is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. He believes that access to quality education is a right for all children and young people and he thinks it is one of the most important challenges of this decade to ensure quality education for all.
Jacob is a 24-year-old Danish student activist and International Officer at the National Union of Students in Denmark. He seeks to link the local with the global by putting young people at the center of decision-making. Jacob believes that education is most successful when it is co-created by teachers and students.
Amyrrha is a 26-year old social policy advocate who believes in the transformative power of education. She worked as a secondary school English teacher in her home country, the Philippines for 2 years - having obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education. As a young student leader, she championed youth literacy and women empowerment - and became a recipient of Zonta International’s Young Women in Public Affairs Award. She was also named Most Outstanding Jose Rizal Model Student of the Philippines, in honor of their national hero who advocated for education of the youth as catalysts for change.
Her motivation for being a GPE Youth Leader is to strengthen the call for financing education and bridge educational gaps between countries, especially those in the Global South.
She holds a second Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, Sciences Po Paris, where she specialized in Social Policy and Social Innovation. She has harnessed her passion for advocacy and social change through meaningful work experiences across education and human rights at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France, and food sustainability at an international non-profit organization at The Hague, Netherlands.
She is currently based at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Zoé Elkær Nicot
Zoé Elkær Nicot , 23, is a law student from the University of Copenhagen who is passionate about human rights. In 2021 she obtained a bachelor’s degree in European Studies, majoring in EU law from the University of Amsterdam. She is co-founder of the European Debate Initiative (EDI) and a 2021 European Citizen’s Prize laureate. Moreover, she is the Danish EU Youth Delegate in the 9th cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue, as well as a Youth Delegate in the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. She is also the chairperson of Forum for International Cooperation Youth; a member of Plan International Denmark’s Youth Advisory Council; and a Democracy Ambassador in the NGO- Democracy in Europe. She is part of Million Peacemaker’s Youth Initiative, and a National Youth leader in Global Partnership for Education. Finally, she works as a Political Assistant in the Danish Parliament. In 2022, she was nominated as a “Global Changer” by the Global Change Initiative.
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Karen is a 19-year old youth activist currently doing a gap year in Brussels after graduating in 2021 from high school in Germany.
As a result of the inequality she herself experienced as a girl with non-academic parents, she chose to represent her fellow students in the school committee in Bavaria, Germany, where she talked to the officials shaping the Bavarian education sector. She also joined the new Youth Council of the Ministry of Development and Economic Cooperation Germany with the focus on education, child labor vs. child work and where these topics overlap.
She believes that neither your gender nor your social background should determine your future and therefore quality education should be available for everyone.
Inas El Aidi
Inas is 19 years old and comes from Morocco. She is a student majoring in Economics and Sociology of Gender at Sciences Po, in France. She started to engage in advocacy since she was in high school in Morocco, where she organized a collection of school supplies and tutoring sessions in favor of needy students in rural areas. She also volunteered in social centers for the elderly and for children with Down Syndrome. Since she moved to France, she decided to engage in a larger scale as she is currently the co-president of the UNICEF branch of her university campus and an advocate for the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa as a ONE France Youth Ambassador. She strongly believes that education should be a public good, a right and an institution that ensures equal opportunities by providing every child with the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals, no matter where they are.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Ranja is a 26 year old German Expat based in Paris with degrees in law and humanitarian organization management. In addition to her extensive real-world skills, community service, and volunteering experience fighting for young people’s engagement and education, she also takes part in Plan International France's "Plan Des Jeunes" program, which chooses a select group of young people to advocate for children’s rights and equality for girls around the world.
Ranja is deeply engaged in the promotion of gender equality and access to education for all. She strongly believes that quality education is the most effective way to break the vicious cycle of poverty and ensure a better future for both oneself and future generations.
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Mariama is from Guinea, currently studying International institutions, NGOs & development strategies in France.
She has been volunteering for Plan International France since 2017 to promote and support the NGO’s activities in defending children’s rights and gender equality in developing countries. As a result, she has participated in advocacy activities, awareness-raising workshops and network facilitation missions in high-level meetings and forums with policy makers and members of civil society. She is committed to creating consciousness among young people on issues related to gender equality, access to education and children's rights, through educational tools that lead to solution-oriented critical thinking.
Mariama believes that being a GPE Youth Leader is a great opportunity for her to support the transformation of education. After her mandate, she pledges to always continue to support education for all, even on a small scale, because it is a common cause.
Lilia is 21 years old and a Law Student at the University of Paris. She is currently studying a master's degree in International and European Law in order to become a practicing international lawyer that advocates against injustice.
She is passionate about human rights and has been involved with ONE in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Specifically, in the past three years, she has been part of ONE's task force working to renew the Europe-Africa partnership which is important to her as a young woman from these two continents.
Currently, she is interested in dedicating a larger part of her commitment to education issues because of her experience of being from a disadvantaged background and not having access to the same socio-cultural spheres as her peers. She is thankful for the awareness of the opportunities that have been made possible through her education which she worked hard to attain.
She believes that school is the most powerful weapon to change the world and that access to education changes lives so she is mobilizing her peers and world leaders to ensure that this fundamental right is no longer an opportunity.
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Ruszlan is a 21-year-old economics student. In middle school, he turned his attention to children's rights and has dedicated himself to young people’s concerns ever since. At UNICEF, Ruszlan developed social media projects like #jumpforgirls to draw attention to female genital mutilation and campaigned for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. After graduating from school, he volunteered in India’s education sector to deepen his knowledge of development policy. He currently represents German youth as a UN youth delegate. Ruszlan strongly believes that education holds the promising potential to not only equip everyone with the keys to their individual success but also to create resilient and thriving communities.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Sunniva has German, Italian and Norwegian roots and considers herself a global citizen. She is 24 years old, currently studying Sustainable Entrepreneurship at the University of Groningen and based in the Netherlands.
Sunniva is an advocate for gender equality with a focus on creativity, connection and collaboration. She is particularly interested in art as a tool to create transformational change in the educational sector.
While working for a multinational company, she designed and implemented the first global mental health campaign to break the stigma around mental health and mental illnesses at the workplace. Besides using her own online platforms to raise awareness about topics related to sustainability, she aims to take her activism to the next level with GPE. Sunniva truly believes in a sustainable future in which girls and women take on their roles as storytellers, guides, leaders and pioneers in every part of our society.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Van Anh Nguyen
Van is a 20-year-old German student with Vietnamese roots. As a ONE champion, he worked on convincing the German parliament to stand up for social equality and social justice by signing the Article ONE.
While attending a middle-school for children with special-needs, Van experienced how all of us regardless of our backgrounds or conditions face a number of similar challenges when learning, that goes from “you don’t know where to start” to distraction and low motivation.
He believes that learning is not only the greatest opportunity to improve yourself but also a reminder of our similarity as humans. He wants to take part in creating and developing opportunities to learn and connect.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Felize, 22, is studying midwifery at the University of Tübingen with a thematic focus on the relationship between education and health. Before being a youth leader for GPE, Felize gained practical experience in various human rights-related fields, among other things as a volunteer in Egypt and as a member of the student council. She is deeply passionate about gender equality and believes that even a small group of people can make big changes for the better.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Asimawu, 24, hails from and resides in the Northern part of Ghana. She is currently studying Basic Education at the University for Development Studies. Asimawu has in-depth knowledge and work experience in social work, specifically youth development and reproductive health education, capacity building, and reporting. She is also keen on social entrepreneurship and established Asmi Ultimate Care, an initiative that focuses on training individuals to produce soaps and detergents. As a beneficiary of CAMFED’s support to attend secondary school and university, Asimawu is also a member of the CAMFED Association (CAMA), where she passes on learning and expertise to girls and young women in her community. She believes that education is the tool that breaks down all barriers and it is part of the foundation of all progress and growth, both as an individual and as a society. All things are possible because anything can be learned.
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Diana Ayala is 27 years old and lives in Honduras. She is part and leader of CEAAL Youth Group in Honduras and part of GCE & CLADE through Foro Dakar Honduras. She is regularly involved with advocacy actions to local governments and CSOs on the success of SDG 4, and the education sector plan of Honduras, which includes access, quality and free education for all.
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Miyo is a university student majoring in architecture. She was born in and grew up in Hiroshima, known as one of the most famous Peace Cities. Her grandparents are hibakusha and she has a lot of opportunities to learn, think about and discuss peace. She took lessons called “Peace Education” which is particular to residents of Hiroshima. She thinks education, especially peace education, is necessary to realize a peaceful world.
Through her advocacy journey, she discovered that inadequate infrastructure not only makes it impossible to live comfortably but also prevents children from going to school, so she decided to study architecture.
In addition, Miyo belongs to Plan International Japan’s Youth Group where she advocates for and proffers solutions to promote gender equality in Japan.
Tomoe is a 26 year-old youth activist from Japan. She became a volunteer in the education sector when she studied abroad in Ghana and the United Kingdom during her undergraduate education where she realized the importance of education for all. She also participated in the Japan-China-Korea Youth Forum for the Model United Nations as a Japanese representative.
Her experience in youth engagement led her to pursue her master’s degree in Economics of Education and International Development in order to obtain knowledge of evidence-based policymaking. By doing so, she became passionate about quality education and early childhood development.
Currently, she is a member of the Japan Public-Private Partnership Student Study Abroad Program where she creates awareness about the importance of education in communities as well as the Japanese government.
She strongly believes that having access to quality education is a human right and is fundamental to a person's well-being.
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- Video: Advocacy to G7 leaders
Masafumi Watabe is a 20-year-old youth leader who majors in law. Last July, he attended the GGG+ forum held in Tokyo in which he gave a speech about the importance of education in front of the Japanese government and ministries. He is aspiring to advocate towards the Japanese government and spread awareness on the importance of education.
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Angel Mbuthia is a 26-year-old Kenyan youth advocate who is passionate about leadership and governance. She serves as the Secretary for Gender and International Relations of the All-Africa Students Union and an 100 Million Campaign Ambassador. She also chairs the COMESA Youth Advisory Panel and has led various campaigns advocating for quality education at all levels of learning both nationally and internationally. Angel strongly believes that education is still the passport to the future.
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- News article: Election to COMESA Youth Advisory Panel
Selina Nkoile, is 27 years old and lives in Narok, Kenya. In 2017 she founded Nashipai, which uses grassroots interventions to provide Maasai girls with opportunities for education and success. Selina is a ONE champion, youth advocate for NAYA Kenya and a member of Youth End FGM Network Kenya. She believes transforming the education system will provide a strong base for lifelong learning and opportunities.
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- Podcast: Pauline Black of The Selecter, Julia Gillard on girls' education, Mothers at risk of losing their children
Cynthia Nyongesa is 25 years old and from Kenya. She founded a digital platform, “Cynthia Untamed” to amplify the stories of young changemakers in Africa. She uses the platform to fundraise for books for needy students. She began advocacy as a volunteer mentor with ‘Wings to Fly,’ the Equity Group and Mastercard Foundation’s scholarship initiative. She is the Generation Unlimited Youth Ambassador for Kenya. Here, she advises the Global Leadership Council and Office of the President in Kenya on education and training in creating opportunities for youth. She believes that transforming the education system equips learners with the skills to be innovative.
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- Cynthia raised her hand
- Event: Raise Your Hand Nordic Midsummer Festival
- Accelerating progress on gender equality – a youth perspective
- The Global Education Summit: Looking back, moving forward
- Girls' education and ending violence against women and girls focus of world-leading experts
- Kenyan and UK MPs raise their hands for education financing
- Discussion with Helen Grant, UK Special Envoy for Girls' Education
Anthony Were is a Project officer for Humanity & Inclusion in the Inclusive Education Project. He is a trained teacher with over 4 years’ experience and has worked in special schools dedicated to children with hearing impairments. In his work he supports teachers and learners in Inclusive schools in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.
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Shradha Koirala is 29 years old. She is the senior program coordinator for the National Campaign for Education Nepal (NCE Nepal). She is leading the Youth led campaigns at the national and local level and is also involved in the Youth Action Research for change. She is regularly involved in lobby and advocacy with the local, province and federal government for ensuring Right to Education of all children and youths. She has conducted several research works on education financing, budget tracking, preparation of CSOs reports, youths position paper and demands for ensuring equitable and quality learning opportunities etc. As the youth focal person in the organization, she believes that educational transformation is possible through and by young people as they are the real agents of change.
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Iyunoluwa Ademola-Popoola is 22 years old. She lives in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria, and is a graduate of the university in Ibadan. She is a volunteer with OneAfricanChild for creative learning. OneAfricanChild is creating a society that fosters creativity, education, and innovation among young Africans. Iyunoluwa believes that the educational system in Nigeria has to be transformed because presently it isn’t inclusive.
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Mukhtar Halilu is 25 years old and lives in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a social development advocate and a champion of the FollowTheMoney initiative, which works in over 10 African countries. He specializes in practical issues around education financing, advocacy and development of education policies as it affects rural and deprived grassroots communities. Mukhtar believes that education is at the heart of any national development.
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Maryjacob Okwuosa is a 25-year-old Nigerian. Maryjacob coordinates Activista in Nigeria as a platform to build the capacity of young people to demand quality and accessible education for all in Nigeria. Maryjacob is also the founder and Executive Director of Whisper to Humanity, a youth-led feminist organization that is training teachers and students to create a more conducive learning space for all. Maryjacob represents Whispers to Humanity in Transform Education, a youth led organization hosted by UNGEI.
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Lorin Abdullah is a 24 year old social worker and youth activist from Norway who is passionate about human rights and education for all, especially for girls. She has been working as a volunteer and activist for various organizations, including Red Cross, Norges frivilligsentraler and UNGKURD since she was 16. She believes education is the key to success in the world where a better future is based on knowledge.
Martine Billing is 23 years old and comes from Horten, Norway. She has a bachelor's degree in Comparative Politics, with a year on exchange to Peru. Martine currently works full-time on topics related to academic freedom and student rights as one of the two elected Vice Presidents of The Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH). She has been volunteering for various organizations, working with international issues, since she was 15 years old. She is passionate about ensuring access to quality education for all, and believes that education is the key to solving the challenges of tomorrow.
Johanne Fearnley is a 19-year-old project coordinator in Save the Children Norway, where she works on strengthening local youth participation. Through her position in the central board of Press - Save the Children Youth, she has supported the design and planning of the Global Disability Youth Summit 2022 to keep parties accountable on their implementation of the rights of young people with disabilities. As the Vice President of the umbrella organization for the youth organizations of Oslo, she has a profound interest in working for young people's right to participate in key decision-making organisations. She also creates platforms that enhance young people's ability and opportunity to create change in matters that affects them everywhere. With an interlinked background working on both refugee and student rights, she has gained a fierce passion for advocating for robust, quality education systems for all children - which she believes is a key to ensuring so many other rights for children.
Ken Paolo is a 21-year-old student leader, activist, and advocate of quality and accessible education, social democracy, and good governance based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Phillipines. He serves as the National Chairperson of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP) — the largest formation of student councils, organizations, political parties, and leaders in the country that organize and train students to be frontliners in championing key reforms in the education sector. Under his leadership, SCAP centered on the campaign for safe reopening of schools, accessible mental health services, increase of budget in education, and passage of the Students Rights and Welfare Bill to address the country’s education crisis.
Shaikha Khalid Al-Shaibi
Shaikha is a Qatari global advocate at Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). Al-Shaibi earned a bachelor’s degree of Science and Communications from Northwestern University Qatar and has recently graduated from University of Portsmouth with a Master’s degree in Project Management. Al-Shaibi is interested in development studies, learning about new cultures and addressing challenges with the most vulnerable groups that are in massive need. She has recently joined QFFD and organized several discussions on world issues such as climate change and quality education.
Josephine Kamara is a 28 year old girls’ rights advocate from Sierra Leone. Since 2018, she has led on mobilizing, organizing and fighting for pregnant schoolgirls rights and access to education in Sierra Leone. She led in convening the Coalition for Girls Education, an alliance of 30 organizations that successfully used different strategies including strategic engagement and public campaigning to overturn the ban on pregnant girls from school and enact a new radical inclusion in education policy in Sierra Leone. She convened activists, supported girls and survivors to speak up, led engagements with development partners, parliamentarians and religious leaders among others and was often the face and voice of the resistance against the ban on national and sometimes international media platforms. Josephine is currently the Senior Advocacy Manager of Purposeful, a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow and 2015 Together for Girls global heroes fighting to end violence against women and girls. She believes that a strong army of educated female children can change Africa.
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- Essay: Safe to Learn essay collection: New ideas and solutions to end violence in and around schools
- Video: Raise Your Hand Live! For International Women's Day
- Event: GPE Youth Leader discussion on International Women’s Day
- Podcast: BBC Woman's Hour Pauline Black of The Selecter, Julia Gillard on girls' education, Mothers at risk of losing their children
- News article: Interview with Bistandsaktuelt
Fatu Sewanatu Mansaray
Fatu Sewanatu Mansaray is 20 years old and a Sierra Leonean living in Freetown. She has used her voice to challenge world leaders and local governments to invest in education for all. Fatu is part of Plan International’s youth network and sits on the guiding group of Transform Education, a youth led network hosted by UNGEI. The network uses advocacy to bring changes to their communities. Fatu believes that transforming education will solve many of the inequalities in her country for example teenage pregnancy.
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Ayesha is a 28-year-old British-Somali who is a passionate advocate for global education, committed to change through the power of youth participation. She is currently a Campaigns Officer for Send My Friend to School, the preeminent UK civil society coalition demanding quality education for children worldwide. Having graduated with a master’s in public policy, she was previously the Vice President of Somali Youth Organization, a parliamentary mentor for the Three Faiths Forum and selected for a UN program in New York. Sitting on the 2021 G7 Youth Implementation Taskforce, Ayesha is a driving force for the prioritization of education in donor countries. She is proud of her Somali heritage and committed to being a change-agent for her community.
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Zubair is an education activist, social entrepreneur, and founder of ZNotes - an online learning platform he started at 16 and today, has reached over 3.5 million students globally. He is the recipient of the Diana Legacy Award - the "highest accolade a young person can receive for their social and humanitarian efforts". Zubair is a One Young World ambassador and also an advisory board member of DEFI at Cambridge University and the EY Foundation. As an SDG advocate, he has been published and has spoken on international platforms including the 74th UN General Assembly, ITU Regional Innovation Forum and the TEDx stage. Zubair believes education is a right, not a privilege and that an educated population with a change-making attitude is necessary for the survival of our planet. With his learnings from ZNotes, he proposes and is keen to implement a peer-based and community-led learning model to enable government-led educational reform strategies to ensure equitable quality education is available to all, especially in globally under-resourced education systems. Holding a Master’s in Mathematics from UCL, Zubair is a marathon runner, triathlete and inline/figure skater.
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Michelle is a 19-year-old second-year law student living in London. Growing up in South Africa, she witnessed the devastating effects of poverty and lack of access to adequate education. It has, therefore, become a mission of hers to continue advocating for important legislation to be passed by speaking to leaders who can make a difference. To achieve her mission, Michelle has begun raising money for charities, publicising petitions to be sent to Parliament, and enhancing her public speaking abilities by engaging in conversations with global activists such as Nane Annan at the Kofi Annan UN Association event. Michelle's Ghanaian parents have always instilled in her the importance of education and as a result, she has grown to greatly appreciate the opportunities that she has been given. It is her hope that more girls are presented with this opportunity as well. Michelle is currently a Youth Ambassador at ONE, where she engages with policy-makers on issues such as vaccine equity and the replenishment of The Global Fund. She is also a member of the AU-EU Youth Task-Force, where she is involved in drafting an open letter to ministers preceding the AU-EU 2022 Summit and advising on youth inclusion and global health.
Oluwafeyisikemi (Sikemi) Okunrinboye
Sikemi is a 20-year-old law student at the University of Kent, who was born and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She has always been passionate about equality, but having been a secondary school student at the time of the Chibok kidnappings in 2014, became even more passionate about protection within education systems. Having seen the impact of COVID-19 in the UK, Sikemi is concerned about how it is affecting countries in the Global South, but particularly how it’s disproportionately affecting girls. Sikemi serves as a ONE ambassador and GPE youth leader in the UK, as well as sitting on the Inclusive Change Advisory Group for CoppaFeel. Sikemi is dedicated to using her skills for inciting change.
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Anh Duong is a teacher and a youth activist for gender equality and girls' rights from Vietnam. She is a member of the Champions of Change network and a youth advisor of Plan International, working to amplify youth and girls' voices. Anh believes that a transformative education system is the key for to achieve an equitable and free world for all.
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Clement Kaponda is passionate about Climate Change and education, He is the co-Founder of Alliance for World Change-AWC; a non-profit organization led by youths formed to champion Climate change advocacy focused on marginalized groups in Zambia. Through AWC, he has initiated various projects, including the formation of “Twikatane Clubs” meaning UNITY. Members of these clubs receive training from AWC on basic climate change education and go on to sensitize fellow pupils and their communities on the importance of promoting behaviors that mitigate climate change such as tree planting and environmental protection. Clement is currently in his final year of Master of Science in Peace, Leadership and Conflict Resolution from the University of Zambia.
Ashlegh Pfunye is a 24-year-old social justice activist from Zimbabwe who strongly believes in quality education for all. He has served as the Secretary General of Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU). Ashlegh has been at the forefront for advocating for equal access to education for all and has led campaigns, protests and peaceful initiatives in efforts to make education free for all in Zimbabwe.