UNICEF Youth Advocates 2020
On World Children's Day 2020, UNICEF is partnering with young people around the globe to advance children's rights.
Meet the newest UNICEF Youth Advocates: young thought leaders from backgrounds as diverse as entertainment, education and entrepreneurship to innovation, social justice and media. These are the new young faces of the universal rallying cry in support of children and their rights.
Argentina: Nicole Becker, 19
Nicole Becker is co-founder and one of the main organizers of Jovenes Por El Clima (@jovenesporelclimarg), one of the representatives of Fridays for Future in Argentina, recognized by Amnesty International Argentina as “Ambassador of Consciousness 2019”.
For her efforts in fighting against climate change, the Argentine Congress has recognized Nicole as one of the most outstanding young women in the country.
She advocates for a climate policy that complies with the Paris Agreement at the international level and speaks about the relationship between social justice and climate justice.
She helped declare Argentina in a state of climate emergency and bring about the climate change law.
Nicole campaigns to include the voices of youth in decision making. "Young people will have to take care of decisions that we don´t make and that puts our future at risk. We are not the future, we are the present, we have to act together now, the solution is collective."
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickibecker
Belize: Renata Samuels, 24
Renata Samuels is the current Chairperson of the Steering Committee for U-Report – UNICEF’s polling tool for youth. As part of her work with and for youth, she has held positions in the National Youth Council of Belize and the Belize District Youth Council.
Renata aspires to create a platform where youth are part of the decision-making process.
In 2017, she helped draft Galen University’s first ever Student Government Constitution, whilst holding the position of Vice President. In 2018, she supported UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in carrying out one of the first mental health studies in Belize, called “Helping Adolescents Thrive”, and presented the study’s findings in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2019, she facilitated a series of countrywide focus groups and helped revamp the National Youth Policy of Belize.
Today she uses her social media accounts to inform peers on mental health issues and advocate for youth to be part of the solution.
Renata holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and her long-term aspiration is to become the first female Prime Minister of Belize. A quote she lives by: “If my life were a map it would be safe to say my compass would be pointing north, towards a better future for myself, my family, and Belize.”
Canada: Abram Ilcisin, 17
Abram Ilcisin is a grade 12 student enrolled in an International Baccalaureate course from Edmonton, Alberta. He is a climate activist and has participated in the climate movement, organizing climate strikes throughout 2019. He continues to be involved in the Edmonton Youth for Climate group along with other associated groups.
Canada: Alexander Reed, 19
Alexander Reed from Calgary, Alberta is a passionate advocate who raises awareness for the LGBTQ+ community and for mental health. Advocacy has given him a deeper understanding of different people’s perspectives, which has helped him connect with many amazing people who are fighting for the same causes.
Having huge passion for the well-being of the members of his community, as well as for the welfare of animals — he regularly volunteers with his local shelter. At home, he dotes on his guinea pig, Rosie.
In his spare time, he devotes himself to the arts: playing trumpet, singing, even writing his own lyrics, woodcarving, and creating abstract art to hang on his walls. He hopes to continue building his career in the animal shelter and social industries.
Canada: Alexis John, 15
Alexis John is a motivated grade 11 student at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. To those who know her well, she is a leader, scholar, teammate and a good friend.
Alexis enjoys her time working with children through her volunteering with Peel Lunch and After School Program Child Care Services, UNICEF and playing with her little sister. She also helps her community as a volunteer for the local city councillor, Sue McFadden.
Alexis adores her Boxer dog, Chase, and believes that all her good qualities - empathy, patience, responsibility, discipline, emotional and social maturity, and capacity to have fun - are gifts that Chase brought to her life!
Alexis loves working on UNICEF initiatives and particularly enjoyed helping plan the 2020 National Child Day event. She has also facilitated numerous sessions including the Young Activists Summit 2020 Climate Change session and Systemic Racism sit-in. She hopes to keep engaged in the future of her planet's well-being through UNICEF's activities.
Canada: Olivia Lam, 20
Olivia Lam is a student and advocate from Toronto, Ontario. She is passionate about helping young people and their communities and is an advocate for mental health, LGBTQ2+ and indigenous people’s rights. She is known to be high-energy, friendly, approachable and to brighten any mood with humour.
As an experienced facilitator, Olivia loves sharing ideas, listening to people’s stories and learning from other's experiences. She has an open mind and an open heart and is always excited to learn something new.
Olivia’s involvement with UNICEF began in 2016 when she was brought in to advise on the development of UNICEF Canada’s domestic programme, One Youth. In her role as a UNICEF Canada Youth Advocate and U-Report Ambassador, Olivia engages and empowers other young people in social justice conversations and advocacy.
In her free time, she enjoys baking cookies, playing guitar, watching obscure documentaries and any form of creative expression.
Canada: Reeana Tazreean, 18
Reeana Tazreean is an undergraduate student from Calgary, Alberta. She is also described as a leader, public speaker, innovator, researcher and philanthropist. She is passionate and has the desire to explore, reflect and challenge herself while remaining compassionate towards others. She believes in the importance of lifelong learning as well as self-growth. Her curiosity drives her desire to change the world.
She is an advocate for mental health, a volunteer at multiple organizations and enjoys public speaking. Her hobbies include creative writing, travelling, spending time with her loved ones, as well as an occasional Netflix binge. She is also a design thinking enthusiast and all her work stems from her belief in the importance of vulnerability and empathy.
She has been involved with UNICEF since 2019, as a U-Report Canada Ambassador as well as a co-facilitator and speaker at numerous events including the global high-level dialogue Opening Up Better: Back to School For Every Girl event with UNICEF UK, the education and mental health Stay In to Speak Out series, the UNICEF Report Card 16 launch and the 2019 Change Summit, with more to come.
Canada: Saara Chaudry, 16
Saara Chaudry is an award-winning Canadian actor, dancer, singer and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Kids News contributor.
She currently plays Amy on the Emmy-nominated show “Holly Hobbie” and Saara in the Emmy and Canadian Screen Award winning show “Dino Dana”, a role for which she was received the 2020 Canadian Screen Award. She is now playing Nira on Sinking Ship’s innovative new show, “Lockdown” (2020), shot entirely by webcam and smartphones during the pandemic, and currently in production on The Mysterious Benedict Society.
Saara has also worked on many animated projects. She was nominated for a 2017 Canadian Screen Award for her role as Clara in the “Curse of Clara: A Holiday Tale”. She is thrilled to be the voice of Parvana in the Oscar, Golden Globe and Canadian Screen Award nominated feature film “The Breadwinner”, based on the novel by one of her favourite authors, Deborah Ellis. She is currently working on a number of Netflix’s animated series.
Outside of film and media, Saara is an award-winning international debater, and a vociferous advocate for gender and racial equality and girls education.
Morocco: Meriam Amjoune, 11
Meriam Amjoune won the Arab Reading challenge prize in 2018 when she was only 9 years old, making her the youngest recipient of the award. A lover of reading from an early age and a prolific speaker, Meriam has for years been sharing her passion with children and the general public.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Meriam has supported different UNICEF campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness and advocate publicly for child rights in Morocco. She participated in the Childhood Appeal and Rendez-vous de UNICEF campaigns that support children, young people and their families, particularly in this period of crisis and promoting the rights of children. Meriam is also supporting the new campaign Faces and Stories that UNICEF is launching in Morocco on World Children’s Day.
"I am very proud to be collaborating with UNICEF in Morocco to make children's voices heard. I hope that my commitment will make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children. I will endeavor to promote a culture of children's rights," says Meriam.
Morocco: Omar Archane, 15
"My leitmotiv of every day: I am not different from you, but different like you. I live every moment with the hope of breathing love and living in a positive attitude. I will try to spread this approach by supporting the promotion of children's rights in Morocco," says Chef Omar, 15.
Omar Archane, who also goes by Chef Omar, is the youngest influencer chef in Morocco. He has muscular dystrophy which causes muscle weakness. Despite being wheelchair bound, he has been able to transform his disability into a strength and has proven his ability to spread a culture of love and resilience.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Omar Archane has supported different UNICEF campaign to raise awareness and advocate publicly for child rights in Morocco. He participated in the Rendez-vous de UNICEF and #VivreEnSecuritéAvecCovid19 digital campaigns, launched by UNICEF Morocco, to support children, young people and their families, particularly in this period of crisis and promoting the rights of the child.
Sudan: Enas Yousif, 20
Enas Yousif is from Port Sudan in Eastern Sudan’s Red Sea State. As a young person who is deaf, she is passionate about raising awareness and advocating for the rights of deaf people, people with disabilities and special needs, the rights to education, and women’s empowerment.
As a UNICEF Youth Advocate, Enas will reflect the needs of people with disabilities and their participation towards positive development.
In 2019, Enas and friends participated in the Generation Unlimited challenge, supported by UNICEF. Their project focused on creating cultural centers for teaching sign language covering social, cultural, medical and educational topics, to spread sign language for both the deaf and non-deaf. Enas’s team was among the top 10 and succeeded in raising awareness for people who are deaf.
“I’ll support, raise awareness and encourage people with disabilities to speak up and participate, know their rights, demand them, and help each other realize their rights,” said Enas. “It’s Important to hear voices of youth, especially with disabilities because they’re the future”.
Sudan: Makhtoum Abdalla, 17
Makhtoum Abdalla is passionate about equal access to quality education for all children and young people. The 17-year-old from Nyala, South Darfur in the western part of Sudan, believes investment in education is strategic for any country that wishes to progress.
While growing up in a camp for internally displaced people, he continued to raise awareness on education, child rights, improvement in health services and investments in young people. He taught himself English, Turkish and is currently learning French and Spanish. His dream is to become a doctor, not only to heal people, but to ensure the healthcare system advances with equitable access to good healthcare.
As a UNICEF Youth Advocate, Makhtoum will use his voice to inspire other young people to strive towards their goals, learn and reimagine a brighter future.
“Education can take us from the darkness to light,” said Makhtoum. “I’m over the moon to be a Youth Advocate. When I was born, I faced countless problems, but I didn’t stop dreaming for big things. Nothing will change unless you change.”
Sudan: Monzir Mohammed Awad, 17
Monzir Mohammed Awad is an environmental activist and innovator from Damazin, the capital city of Sudan’s Blue Nile State. The 17-year-old founded Future Generations with a group of like-minded and passionate youth, with the collective goal of positively changing their country and future.
Monzir and his team are from internally displaced and conflict-affected communities. However, his vision for what he and others like him can accomplish, knows no bounds.
His interests include the environment, education, creativity, youth empowerment and inventing things. One such product Future Generations built is a solar-powered car – an idea born out of the negative impact of pollution and constant challenges in getting to school.
“As a youth advocate, I’ll take the responsibility to support youth and advocate for their rights,” said Monzir. “My goal is to change our practices to ensure a healthier environment and new innovations that next generations can benefit from. Youth have the right to speak up, be leaders, participate and find solutions for the issues they’re facing in their lives.”
Tanzania: Abigail Chamungwana, 17
Abigail Chamungwana, better known by her stage name Abby Chams, is a singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist and violinist and a grade 12 student.
In addition to her music and studies she is the founder of Abby Chams School of Music, as well as a programme called “Teen Talks with Abby Chams”.
Teen Talks started in 2019 with the aim of empowering young people through discussion about the problems and solutions facing youth today and educating the community on the many social issues affecting young people. Abby leverages her social media platform to spread positive messages and awareness on issues, especially youth and mental health. Social media provides a huge opportunity for change, and Abby does her best to seize it.
She has been working with UNICEF Tanzania as a social media influencer and is being appointed as UNICEF Youth Advocate 2020 on leadership and gender equality. Abby is passionate about working with UNICEF to advocate for the protection of child rights.
Tanzania: Emmanuel Cosmas Msoka, 17
Emmanuel Cosmas Msoka is a young innovator, child rights and youth activist and a change maker.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Emmanuel was able to design a handwashing machine that enhanced hygiene as it is one of the most important preventative measure against the disease. With the support of an organization in Tanzania he has since been able to supply over 400 handwashing stations across Northern Tanzania.
He has extensive experience in volunteering and leadership training and has devoted significant amounts of time to supporting other children and young people. Emmanuel was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize, awarded annually to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating for child rights.
Emmanuel believes in the empowerment of children, literacy, innovation and creativity as key to advancing child rights. He has been selected as a UNICEF Youth Advocate 2020 for water, sanitation and hygiene and innovation.
Tanzania: Raphael Denis, 20
Raphael Denis, currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Development Studies, is a passionate advocate for the rights of children.
As a former leader of the Junior Council of the United Republic of Tanzania, Raphael has represented children’s concerns to decision-makers both nationally and internationally and has influenced policy change.
Raphael developed a Safe School project, aimed at ending violence in and around schools. The project involved equipping teachers with positive discipline techniques as an alternative to corporal punishment and other approaches.
Raphael has been working with local child protection organizations and now works as a youth coordinator at Citizens 4 Change East Africa where he mobilizes young people and communities to take collective action to keep children safe from harm.
Raphael is also among UNICEF Tanzania’s digital storytellers, bringing the spotlight to issues affecting young people. He was recently selected among the 10 Global U-Report Ambassadors to promote UNICEF’s joint campaign with the European Union and African Union: Your Voice, Your Future. He has been selected as a UNICEF Youth Advocate 2020 for child protection.
Togo: Abra Rosaline Tsekpuia, 22
Abra Rosaline Tsekpuia is an agronomist by training and one of the pioneers, and the current communication and public relations officer, of the Girls Motion Movement. Created in 2017, the movement aims to create a group of people, with a majority of girls and young women, working for equality and social justice.
Her commitment to social development has led her to coordinate several projects by associations and youth organizations in the field of agriculture and gender equality, such as: workshops on leadership and female entrepreneurship, digital campaigns and media tours against child marriage and taboos related to menstrual hygiene.
This year, she has coordinated joint activities around online harassment for three youth and children's organizations for International Day of the Girl.
Abra was the winner of the UNHCR-Togo August 2020 essay competition on the analysis of the situation of refugees in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic and proposed response measures. She is currently pursuing master's degree research in Plant Pathology.
Abra is a young woman of science with a strong sense of analysis and interpretation.
Togo: Komlavi Donald Adzonou, 23
Komlavi Donald Adzonou or Donald Jims (on social networks) was born in 1997. Endowed with the soul of an artist, he is a professional photographer and musician. He started photography in school.
After completing his baccalaureate, he studied for two years at the University of Lomé. “I had to take a break because of life’s challenges,” he says.
He is now a multimedia manager in communication agency Jimscom where he is fully involved in photography and video production.
As a young photographer concerned with the issues facing his community, he uses images as a tool to talk about social facts, such as children’s challenges or #HijabColours – an initiative that aimed to break the myth around the veil.
Today Donald is going back to school to obtain a degree in Business Communication.
He dreams of strong, unshakeable youth; youth that believes in its potential. His credo: “Young people, get up and shake things up because nobody will do it for you.”
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donald.adzono
Togo: Nihade Assoumanou, 22
Nihade Assoumanou works as a freelance web editor. Having grasped the importance of social commitment, she has several years of experience in community activism. She has participated and actively contributed to several awareness-raising campaigns on various themes including women’s leadership, climate change and the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Nihade used her pen to support causes such as early and forced marriages and environmental protection. She is the winner of the 2020 edition of the World Bank Group's Blog4Dev contest and double winner of the contest for the best blogger on climate change and sustainable development of Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financière et l'Aide aux Citoyens, Togo.
Nihade is a member of Amazons 3.0, a program which encourages girls’ interest in IT and photography. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Environmental Engineering and dreams of a sustainable and nature-friendly society. To do so, she is attempting to equip future generations with eco-responsibility through the Make Earth & Children Smile project, which consists of ‘edutainment’ workshops on the environment such as recycling and setting up vegetable gardens.
Togo: Rahile Mijiyawa, 22
With a master’s degree in Private Law, Rahile Mijiyawa is interested in everything related to the rights of children, girls and young women. She began her journey in 2017 after she participated in the initiative Les Filles aux commandes, a takeover organized by Plan International Togo jointly with UNICEF. She is one of the pioneers in the creation of the Girls' Motion, a movement that supports campaigns for gender equality in Togo.
Rahile is member of Lifestyle International, an association that promotes women's leadership and a volunteer for Groupe d'Action et de Réflexion Femme Démocratie et Développement. She has been involved in teaching primary school students and has formed clubs on Sustainable Development Objectives in high schools. She is also an active member of Together 4 Change, a group of young people created by UNICEF in Togo.
She was the winner of the women's public speaking contest (2019), the VOX FILIA contest (2018), the Pleading contest of the Collective of Associations Against Impunity in Togo (2019) and the vice winner of the contest in international humanitarian law of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2019.
Trinidad and Tobago: Priyanka Lalla, 14
Priyanka Lalla is a student in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
She is strongly passionate about promoting the rights of children and has single-handedly organized several national advocacy campaigns on issues such as child sexual abuse and the environment.
One of her most noticeable actions was when she met the Commissioner of Police to sensitize him and other senior officers about the plight of abused children in her country. This resulted in her designing and sharing advocacy material aimed at sensitizing police officers on the issue.
Her passion for child rights advocacy started at age 10 when she began working on projects aimed at encouraging and inspiring other young people to use their creativity and ingenuity to make meaningful changes in the world. She designed a plan for a Zero Waste Lunch Kit and started a Zero Waste Living blog.
In 2018, she was among the first cohort of adolescents in Trinidad and Tobago to become a National Child Rights Ambassador, a programme started by the Office of the Prime Minister and supported by UNICEF, to raise the profile of children’s rights in the country.
Zimbabwe: Nkosilathi (Nkosi) Nyathi, 17
Nkosilathi Nyathi, from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, has been a climate change and environmental issues advocate since he was 10 years old when he actively participated in his school’s environmental club. Since 2015, he has been engaged with UNICEF and Greenline Africa, advocating for climate action in many fora and events and being a voice of young people on climate change in Zimbabwe and Africa.
“This appointment gives me a greater opportunity to lend a voice for the youth around climate change because we are the future,” says Nkosi.
Over the years Nkosi’s passion for climate change issues, which stem from the continued environmental degradation he has witnessed in his hometown, has motivated him to participate in important climate change initiatives around the world.
He travelled to the COP25 Climate Summit in Spain in 2019, where he joined children and young people from around the world calling on world leaders to urgently address the climate and biodiversity challenges facing the world.
In February 2020, Nkosi participated in the sixth session of the African Regional Summit on Sustainable Development in Victoria Falls, making a passionate opening speech in the presence of world leaders including the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.