Youth leaders

Meet the young education activists who are raising their hand for education around the world

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.

Canada

  • Maryam and Nivaal Rehman
    Maryam and Nivaal Rehman
Maryam and Nivaal Rehman

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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Comoros

  • Armel Azihar Sly-Vania
    Armel Azihar Sly-Vania
Armel Azihar Sly-Vania

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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Denmark

  • Jacob Blasius
    Jacob Blasius
Jacob Blasius

Jacob Blasius

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.

Germany

  • Ruszlan Biwoino
    Ruszlan Biwoino
  • Felize Weckner
    Felize Weckner
Ruszlan Biwoino

Ruszlan Biwoino

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.

Felize Weckner

Felize Weckner

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.

Honduras

  • Diana Ayala
    Diana Ayala
Diana Ayala

Diana Ayala

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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Japan

  • Masafumi Watabe
    Masafumi Watabe
Masafumi Watabe

Masafumi Watabe


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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Kenya

  • Cynthia Nyongesa
    Cynthia Nyongesa
  • Selina Nkoile
    Selina Nkoile
  • Angel Mbuthia
    Angel Mbuthia
  • Anthony Were
    Anthony Were
Cynthia Nyongesa

Cynthia Nyongesa

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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Selina Nkoile

Selina Nkoile

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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Angel Mbuthia

Angel Mbuthia

Angel Mbuthia is a 25-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 a 100 Million Campaign Ambassador and has led various campaigns advocating for quality education at all levels of learning both nationally and continentally. Angel strongly believes that education is still the passport to the future.

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Anthony Were

Anthony Were

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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Nepal

  • Shradha Koirala
    Shradha Koirala
Shradha Koirala

Shradha Koirala

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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Nigeria

  • Iyunoluwa Ademola-Popoola
    Iyunoluwa Ademola-Popoola
  • Mukhtar H. Modibbo
    Mukhtar H. Modibbo
  • Maryjacob Okwuosa
    Maryjacob Okwuosa
Iyunoluwa Ademola-Popoola

Iyunoluwa Ademola-Popoola

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 H. Modibbo

Mukhtar H. Modibbo

Mukhtar H. Modibbo is 24 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

Maryjacob Okwuosa

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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Norway

  • Martine Billing
    Martine Billing
  • Kamilla Engebretsen
    Kamilla Engebretsen
Martine Billing

Martine Billing

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.

Kamilla Engebretsen

Kamilla Engebretsen

Kamilla is a 19-year-old student who, as the youth representative on the board of Plan International Norway, lives out her passion about gender equality and education in crisis. Kamilla has also worked with Save the Children Youth and is currently a Junior Advisor for sexual and reproductive health and rights at Plan Norway. She firmly believes that education is key to ensure just and equitable development for all, especially for girls.

Sierra Leone

  • Josephine Kamara
    Josephine Kamara
  • Fatu Sewanatu Mansaray
    Fatu Sewanatu Mansaray
Josephine Kamara

Josephine Kamara

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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Fatu Sewanatu Mansaray

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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Uganda

  • Bridget Akurut
    Bridget Akurut
Bridget Akurut

Bridget Akurut

Bridget Akurut is 26 years old and lives in Kampala, Uganda. She has been an advocate for girl’s education as a FAWE alumni and she is Alumni Representative to the FAWE General Assembly, as member of the Educate - Her Alliance, Youth leader in Archdiocese of Kampala among others. She strongly believes that education creates equal opportunities for both boys and girls.

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United Kindgom

  • Ayesha Farah
    Ayesha Farah
  • Oluwafeyisikemi (Sikemi) Okunrinboye
    Oluwafeyisikemi (Sikemi) Okunrinboye
Ayesha Farah

Ayesha Farah

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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Oluwafeyisikemi (Sikemi) Okunrinboye

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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Vietnam

  • Anh Duong
    Anh Duong
Anh Duong

Anh Duong

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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Zimbabwe

  • Ashlegh Pfunye
    Ashlegh Pfunye
Ashlegh Pfunye

Ashlegh Pfunye

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.

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