Lawyer and SDG4Youth Network advocate Cynthia Nyongesa participated in discussions with ministers and government representatives on how young people can take forward the commitments of Transformation Education Summit (TES) and advance on SDG4 at the 2023 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in New York.
Cynthia’s passion for education and justice took root eight years ago, “I was 19 years old when I realised how young people in my local village in Western Kenya were missing out on education. I then began to look for ways to change that by volunteering as a mentor with the Equity Wings to Fly, a financial program in Kenya that sponsors needy students to school. My journey then transitioned to other organizations such as UNICEF, Generation Unlimited and Global Partnership for Education.” shares Cynthia, who is currently studying International Law at the University of Cape Town as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar.
Cynthia took part in the 2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum held from 25-27 April, which focused on accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and achieving full implementation of the 2030 Agenda with the active involvement of young people.
During the Ministerial Segment, Cynthia had the opportunity to speak on how youth are partnering to meet TES commitments and advance SDG4. She provided several examples including the Global Youth Initiative, which was developed with youth and student networks, UN and Civil Society partners and is the first multi-stakeholder, global initiative aimed at ensuring meaningful youth engagement and leadership in education policy-making.
Cynthia Nyongesa reflects on the session stating: “Practical solutions and good practices on youth engagement in development and governance were shared. For example, several Member States engage young people through national youth council and advisory boards.”
She continues, ‘Similar to the guidance note for Member States to translate national commitments made at the Transforming Education Summit into action and to transform their education systems, the SDG4Youth Network is currently coordinating the development of a guidance note for youth.
Cynthia expressed optimism for the future and states, "It is important to maintain the momentum and incorporate the perspectives of young people, not only in high-level UN fora such High-Level Political Forum and the Summit of the Future, but more importantly in the plans and policies to implement TES commitments and advance SDG4 at country level."