By Shennon Sequeira – member of the Street Law Project
“Young people are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders we need here and now.”- Amnesty International Secretary General.
Over the last several years, the youth have been introduced and identified as the future of tomorrow. Youth activists have become prominent within society and largely influential - notably activists such as Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai. They have created a strong global presence that reminds society and those in power that the contributions of the generation remain both pertinent and insightful. However, the main concern remains - are the contributions and insights of youth truly valued? Society is governed and run by the government and policy makers, despite their attempts to include the youth in aiding to shape their future, it truly remains limited. It could be argued that this concept is configured through the use of the phrase “the youth as the future of tomorrow”. It conceptualises that the idea the youth are solely responsible of their future. However, the important point to note is that contributions made to society today by different institutions, shape the future of tomorrow.
The youth today, especially in this modern digital era, have faced different realties of violence and society. The impacts of Covid-19, gun violence, hate crimes, socio-economic deprivation has shaped the 22nd century. Nevertheless, young people continue to have a renewed sense of optimism and stand up to injustice. They continue to engage themselves to be an active part in shaping their future and of the generations to come. The youth have constantly been described and reminded that they are the future of tomorrow but when we do speak up or try to be involved, it is negated. Organisations such as the United Nations and governments proclaim and glorify the need to incorporate the youth in decision making and being a part of the conversation that produces solutions that shape our tomorrow. Yet, in reality it remains limited. Moreover, it is important to note that those who do get the opportunity are generally individuals who had better access to education, finance and connections.
The world today is filled with a plethora of issues ranging from corruption to social wrongdoing that has built immense distrust. The solutions formed have arguably been inadequate and are plagued by various formalities. Moreover, global warming continues to be increasingly alarming and has altered the ecosystem. Young people continue to raise their voice against the social injustice, the climate crisis and the socio-economic crisis alongside those affected. If the youth are considered the future of tomorrow, why do not they not have greater accessibility to contribute to the solutions that shape the future? It is important to remember, that whilst the term “youth” represents a generation, there are different branches that exist. It could be argued that the future of tomorrow remains at risk, in collaboration with the disasters that world faces, they are directly impacted by its detriments. Arguably, the youth cannot be the future of tomorrow if there present has no chance to see a future.
It is easy enough to believe that the youth are the future of tomorrow. However, we need to start today in order for us to make progress tomorrow. The leaders of today need to identify, mentor and incorporate the youth today so that they can be the leader tomorrow. It is important to note, that the tomorrow that we are working towards is the same tomorrow we needed yesterday. The youth continue to be the leaders of today and tomorrow!
 Amnesty International, Young people are not the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders we need today, (2018) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/young-people-are-not-the-leaders-of-tomorrow-but-the-leaders-we-need-right-now/>  UNICEF, Who are the youth today? Generation unlimited, (2020) < https://www.unicef.org/cuba/en/publications/who-are-the-youth-today-generation-unlimited> World economic forum, Young people hold the key to creating a better future, (2021) <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/08/young-people-hold-the-key-to-creating-a-better-future/>