Being a young leader doesn’t mean one is powerless, even if certain powers make it seem that way. This past summer I taught a high school leadership class for a summer program with the hope that the students will grow into strong leaders in their own ways and in their own time. I decided to incorporate my studies (IEDP) into my lessons and dedicate some time in discussing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with my students. It was an experiment in some ways. I wanted to see how they would react to the content and stir discussions that they may not be used to having in their public schools. We centered our discussions on Goal # 4 Quality Education and Goal # 5 Gender Equality.
The students got a sample of the realities that exist beyond their local community and the challenges of international development. It was very fascinating to hear what they had to say when I showed them stories of youth around the world who overcame some horrific situations, fought for their right to education, and still found the strength to give back to their communities (for some examples see the International Children’s Peace Prize winners). We also discussed the limitations that girls and women face because of their cultural and religious beliefs and how boys and men also play a role in attaining 50/50 leadership. (By the way, the boys were quite supportive of the girls during our discussions.)