Challenges faced by young people across the world are both local and global in nature. In my country, Ghana, some of the key issues consistently raised through discussions on online and offline youth platforms such as BarCamp include unemployment, corruption, and frequent power cuts (dubbed ‘dumsor’ in local parlance). Less obvious but equally pressing problems include climate change, gender inequality, and limited access to higher education. These challenges are often interlinked and have far-reaching impacts. Therefore, they need to be properly analysed to pave way for the design of appropriate solutions to address them. The youth voice cannot be missing in the discourse as they represent a significant proportion of global population and offer new ideas and visions on the way forward.
For example, frequent power cuts have been frustrating citizens and hampering national development in Ghana for the better part of the last decade-and-half. Everyone has been affected in one way or the other - from intrepid students working hard on school assignments in the evenings to start-up founders or corporate bosses looking to maximise industrial productivity. For young people, this situation has consequences for number of new jobs created in a given period. Dumsor has become a noxious scourge on national life, and many have spoken strongly on government’s inability to solve the problem on civic platforms. Interestingly, it is not just a Ghanaian problem but a regional one. Many countries throughout Africa, including South Africa and Nigeria, face frequent power cuts unlike countries of the global North.
The Global Shapers Community, in ensuring that young people contribute to shaping the world, is collecting youth voices through its second Annual Survey. The survey gives a global overview of young people’s perspectives on the state of the world, and how they would like to contribute to improving it. It is open to all young people between 18 and 35 years everywhere in the world. By taking this survey, you would be helping to compose a more accurate picture of priority issues for young people at global, regional, and national levels. Global Shapers would be creating and sharing a report based on the survey to government, business, and third sector leaders the world over. Global youth surveys like the Global Shapers Survey could be complemented by local studies looking at specific contextual issues into more detail.
Global and local pictures of the youth experience will go a long way to inform relevant interventions to deliver results for youth. This would require cross-sector collaborations. A multi-faceted approach, looking at empowering young researchers and innovators with relevant skills in renewable energy for example, could help untangle the challenges in educational opportunities, energy access, and job security earlier outlined. However, any specific programme developed would rely on insights from sources such as the Global Shapers Annual Survey. By sparing 10 to 15 minutes of your time to take the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2016, you would be contributing to promoting the welfare of young people in your community, country, region, and the world at large. Join me in this important journey of change.