Barbadian named among UN 2022 cohort of SDG Young Leaders

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Ronelle King

United Nations: A Barbadian national is among the 2022 cohort of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced by the United Nations while recognizing their efforts to bring about a fairer future for people and the planet.

Every two years, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth picks out young change-makers at the forefront of attempts to combat the world’s most pressing issues and whose leadership is catalyzing the achievement of the SDGs.

The Barbadian Ronelle King, a multi-award-winning Gender Justice Activist, in 2016 founded the #LifeInLeggings hashtag, a safe space for women who had experienced sexual violence to express themselves.

It evolved into a grassroots organization: women, encouraged by solidarity, were empowered to speak out on their social media platforms about their experiences.

King has played a significant role in the “Reclaim Our Streets” women’s solidarity march and Pink Parliament, which seeks to increase women’s participation in decision-making spaces, and was awarded a 2021 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Award in the category ‘Democratizing governance processes and systems.

Her other awards include the 2017 Youth Hero Award, the 2018 Queen’s Young Leader Award by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, the 2022 Future Island Leader Award, and the 2022 Ignite Caribbean 30 under 30 Changemaker Award.

In a statement, the UN said that the current cohort of leaders was chosen following an open call for applications earlier this year, which resulted in more than 5,400 applications from over 190 countries. Since launching in 2016, the initiative has reached millions of young people worldwide.

“The 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a diverse, highly accomplished group, all between the ages of 17 and 29, who hail from all corners of the world and work across all pillars of the UN, including sustainable development, human rights, and peace and security.”

Among them are an aspiring astronaut, a poet, and a Paralympic medallist. Others range from artists to climate entrepreneurs and education innovators.

“The 2022 class of Young Leaders for the SDGs represents an incredibly diverse, intersectional, and inspirational group of young people who reflect the very best of global youth activism and advocacy when it comes to challenging the status quo and creating a better world for all,” said Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

“Even amidst the ongoing pandemic, climate crisis, and global instability, these young people demonstrate immense resilience, resourcefulness, and leadership in finding innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.”

In 2015, 195 nations agreed with the United Nations that they could change the world for the better. They said this will be accomplished by bringing together their respective governments, businesses, media, institutions of higher education, and local NGOs to improve the lives of the people in their country by 2030.

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