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Written by Zori, ONE Youth Ambassador, Belgium

Being a Youth Ambassador (YA) has really put things into perspective for me. In June, I was able to attend the European Development Days (EDDs), one of Europe’s largest development summits organised by the European Commission, in Brussels.

ONE Youth Ambassadors at the 2019 EDDs.

The European Development Days

At the EDDs, ONE had an interactive stand staffed with enthusiastic Youth Ambassadors and activities like virtual reality glasses, a photo booth, quizzes and educational games. The goal of the stand was to raise awareness around ONE’s Poverty is Sexist campaign which advocates for women and girls around the world to have equal access to the opportunities they need to thrive.

Visitors were thrilled by the activities we had and the highlights from the day were many. I was extremely happy with how interactive visitors were — they asked many questions about the work we do and they walked away from our stand learning about ONE.

ONE Youth Ambassadors with Mari Malek (right).

The most inspiring moment of the two days was getting the opportunity to interact with activists like Mari Malek, a South Sudanese activist, model and DJ. Mari is the founder of “Stand for Education”, a non-profit that provides girls and women with access to educational opportunities in communities affected by poverty.

ONE Youth Ambassadors with Samira Bawumia (centre), the Second Lady of Ghana.

Another highlight was meeting Mrs. Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, and Margarita Cadeno, Vice-President of the Dominican Republic, and telling them more about the Poverty is Sexist campaign.

We also hosted Facebook Live interviews with passionate EDD Young Leaders like Sandra Ajaja, Mwala Mooto and Inota Cheta who are empowering women with job-related skills. A youth brainstorming session took place where we discussed ideas and experiences, from which new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges arose.

We need to care about gender equality

World leaders should put gender equality at the top of every agenda because it is linked to sustainable and economic development. Gender equality can also help prevent violence against women and girls and makes each community safer. The benefits of gender equality are endless and I could go on and on!

The EDD’s are very important in the fight for gender equality because they put the spotlight on the Sustainable Development Goals, where gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential for the achievement of the 2030 agenda.

It has only been three weeks, but I already can’t wait to see what next year EDDs have in store for us. Until then one thing is certain — ONE Youth Ambassadors will keep fighting for gender equality. We will also keep following up with politicians and holding them accountable. We hope you’ll join us too. Until next year!

Zori is a 2019 ONE Youth Ambassador based in Belgium. Originally from Bulgaria, she grew up in Belgium and the United States. She has been an advocate for human rights for as long as she can remember and firmly believes that none of us are equal until all of us are equal.

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