UNICEF Youth Advocates
Meet our young partners – thinkers and doers for a better world for children.
Meet some of UNICEF's Youth Advocates.
UNICEF’s global cohort of young advocates comprises youth from across the globe with universal goals. From creating a more climate-resilient planet to fighting against gender-based violence to championing the rights of children with disabilities, these young people are speaking out and taking action for children’s rights everywhere.
Bangladesh: Farzana Faruk Jhumu, 24
After having witnessed the severe impacts of climate change in Bangladesh, Farzana started advocating for climate action and youth participation in climate decisions. She plays active roles in Fridays for Future, Feminist Action Coalition for Climate Justice and in coordinating the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty with 350.org.
As a UNICEF Youth Advocate, she aims to represent the voices of millions of children and champion their rights for a better planet. As an established voice in climate justice, Farzana dreams of a world where countries like Bangladesh will not be a victim of climate catastrophes.
Botswana: Catherine Cathy Mantswe, 16
Catherine is a secondary school student and is the current President of the Student Representative Council in Botswana. She was born with Osteogenesis imperfecta, an uncurable brittle bone disease that makes it difficult to walk without support. As a young person living with a disability, she is passionate about advocating for children with disabilities, the right to education and child protection issues. In 2021, she co-hosted the inaugural conference for children and young people forum (CY21). During her interaction with the President of Botswana, she advocated for inclusive education that caters to students with disabilities.
Cathy recently handed over 75 letters on Reimagine education to the President and cabinet ministers of Botswana.
Denmark: Selma De Montgomery, 17
Selma has been advocating for her right to a livable planet since she was 13. As one of the most influential voices on climate change in Denmark, she has argued for children’s rights and for climate action with politicians, decision makers and the public in media, debates, and demonstrations. She is also a part of The Danish Green Youth Movement.
Selma is the first Youth Advocate for UNICEF Denmark, with whom she will focus on the climate crisis as a child rights crisis.
Greece: Effie Zografou, 22
Effi Zografou is from Athens and is studying to become an occupational therapy assistant. She grew up in an institution herself, so as a Youth Advocate for UNICEF, she wants to work on issues regarding deinstitutionalization for both typically developing children and children with disabilities, as well as on child protection and issues of young people’s sexuality.
She has participated in various events concerning child protection issues, with a special focus on deinstitutionalization and was also a member of UNICEF’s Youth Steering Committee for the implementation of the European Union's "Child Guarantee" programme.
Greece: Εfi Zafeiropoulou, 17
Efi Zafeiropoulou from Athens is a high school student and her goal is to study law. As a youth advocate, she wants to contribute to issues related to the importance of active youth participation in decision-making processes and inclusive education, aiming to provide equal opportunities to all children without discrimination.
Greece: Panagiotis Raptis, 11
Panagiotis Raptis is the youngest of our youth advocates from Greece. He is a fifth-grade student and would like to become a lawyer or sports journalist. As a UNICEF youth advocate, he wants to be actively involved in inclusion and integration of people with disabilities and rare diseases in society.
Panagiotis plays the main character in UNICEF Greece’s campaign on inclusive education, run in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. He has participated in a series of meetings and discussions on issues concerning children with disabilities in the country.
Greece: Stavros Yiouvannis, 19
Stavros studies economics at the University of Macedonia. As a member of the Roma community, he is particularly interested in issues of inclusion, social exclusion and education and has participated in human rights workshops in several organizations and universities. He also served as a member of UNICEF’s Youth Steering Committee for the implementation of the European Union's "Child Guarantee" programme.
Iraq: Mujtaba Alshawi, 20
Mujtaba is a member of UNICEF’s Young People Advisory Group and works on climate change issues with UNICEF. He has created content and participated in UNICEF’s annual review in Iraq as a voice of the youth. In September 2021, Mujtaba took part in UNICEF Youth Advocates Mobilization Lab, where he advocated for climate justice on behalf of youth in Iraq. He also met with Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition, to discuss the climate change crisis in Iraq and how the drought in the marshes of southern Iraq forces people to migrate.
Mujtaba is currently a dental school student and is from Missan, Iraq.
Iraq: Tuqa AlBakri, 20
Tuqa is a member of UNICEF’s Young People Advisory Group and has been collaborating with U-Report in Iraq, in partnership with the Iraqi Ministry of Youth and Sports. Tuqa also participated in UNICEF Iraq’s annual review in 2021, as a voice of youth in her city. She was able to discuss the challenges youth are facing in Iraq with decision-makers. She represented young people in a panel session with the Canadian Ambassador and the Iraqi Minister of Youth and Sports during the launch event of the Canadian project for youth skilling and entrepreneurship in Iraq.
Tuqa is a medical analysis student and is from the capital Baghdad.
Nepal: Nir Bahadur Shrestha, 23
Nir has a background in psychology and is a passionate advocate for inclusive development. He has been the president of the Blind Youth Association Nepal and a member of the Youth Advisory Group for Youth Power 2 Learning and Evaluation at Making Cents International. He has worked as an organiser for the Asian Youth Assembly in 2018 and the Global Youth Leadership Summit in 2019, and as a youth champion at the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal, the Global Youth Parliament and Visible Impact. Nir is also one of the winners of the National Volunteering Award 2020 jointly awarded by UN Nepal and the National Youth Council.
Nir is committed to shining a light on the challenges and needs of persons with disabilities.
Nepal: Pallavi Karn, 22
Pallavi is a keen believer in the transformative power of healthy and nutritious food for children and young people. She is an undergraduate with a major in nutrition and dietetics and has participated in a number of community-based nutrition awareness programmes and campaigns for schools. She recently interned at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital as a clinical dietitian and is a member of the Nepal Student’s Association of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pallavi put her knowledge and skills to work as a dietary advisor for COVID-19 patients as part of the Dharan Medical Students’ Team in Nepal.
Nepal: Prakriti Bhattarai, 24
Prakriti is the co-founder and chairperson of Political Literacy for Women, an organization which aims to increase Nepali women's knowledge about politics and is designed to provide learning, networking and leadership spaces for Nepali women and girls. She is also one of the lead campaigners of Ajha Kati Sahane, a nationwide movement calling for action against gender-based violence. As an outspoken proponent of gender equality and women’s rights, she has shared her insights at UNICEF’s South Asian Parliamentarian Platform for Children.
Prakriti has completed Leadership, Organizing and Action at Harvard Kennedy School. She currently works at Kantipur Television hosting women empowerment and elections debates across the country.
Nepal: Prashansha K.C., 21
As someone wearing many hats – engineering student, filmmaker, YouTuber and social activist – Prashansha believes education is a key factor in eliminating early marriage. She has initiated different awareness campaigns to educate young people and families about the harms of early marriage and has been promoting the Pampha scholarship for a Diploma in civil engineering to girls of rural communities.
In 2020, and with support from UNICEF, she created Euta Sahayog – a film about mental health in the context of the pandemic – a touching message for young people on the importance of reaching out for help and not giving up.
Nepal: Shitanshu Dhakal, 22
Shitanshu advocates for mental health – an area that has taken most of her attention since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is one of the co-founders of Aarogya Foundation for the mental well-being of adolescents, the Vice President of Leo Club of Kathmandu Empire and the founder of Kalyaan Foundation which was established to support access to mental health services and create mental health awareness.
Shitanshu has been featured in the Voice Gems digital exhibition at Davos and has been collaborating on a mental health video project with World Psychiatric Association as a youth representative from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
Nepal: Shree Krishna Thapa, 24
Shree Krishna was firmly engaged in social issues since he was a member of a UNICEF-supported child club established to create changemakers within communities. Over the years, Shree has been outspoken against gender-based violence. Today, he has 15 years of experience working in gender equality, including as a founder of Hami DajuVai, a feminist organization aimed at eliminating gender-based violence with a focus on men and masculinity.
Shree is also a skilled facilitator and trainer and is pursuing his master’s in Sociology at Tribhuvan University. He believes the small things we do can change the world.
Nepal: Sonika Poudel, 24
Sonika has been engaged in calling for social change from a very young age. She now focuses on raising awareness about climate change, its impacts and highlighting the urgency of climate action. As she pursues a graduate degree in Environmental Science at Oklahoma State University, she hopes to use scientific research to solve real environmental problems.
As an environmentalist, she is concerned about environmental issues, which have always captured her attention. Her dream is to establish a zero-waste society where people think twice before discarding anything, by educating them about Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – the 3 Rs of sustainable waste management.
Senegal: Adama Diallo, 18
Adama is a young educator and the president of the Dabo girls' club in Senegal. She is also the Support Project coordinator for the National Strategy for Equity and Gender Equality and a member of the global consortium to fight against female genital mutilation (FGM). She has become a youth leader whom people go to, to report and/or find solutions against cases of early marriage or female genital mutilation.
Adama advocates for positive change: “a community where no child is abused, no girl is raped, no woman dies from health complications and no assistance.”
Senegal: Maguette Ba, 20
Maguette is a Young Citizen Reporter, member of the Young Voices of the Sahel and is very active in the protection of the environment as a Young Volunteer for Environment in Senegal. She has represented Senegal’s youth at the AU-EU Head of State Summit, participated in the World Water Forum in Dakar, moderated Under the Palaver Tree – the first debate organized by Young UNICEF and was part of Senegal’s official delegation at COP27 (UN Climate Conference).
Maguette’s advocacy work focuses on schools: to educate the next generation on issues related to environment, education and protection.
Sri Lanka: Tharushi Weerasinghe
Tharushi is a journalist and law student and is passionate about child rights and climate change issueds. She lobbied against child marriage at UNICEF's Third Parliamentarian's Meeting for Children whereby Parliamentarians from South Asia principally agreed to make 18 the minimum age of marriage across the region. She was instrumental in the formulation of national education policy as a youth rep in multiple parliamentary oversight committees. She is an Earth Journalism Network fellow, was an on-ground reporter at COP27 and is keen to keep working on climate change journalism and child rights. Tharushi is UNICEF Sri Lanka’s first youth advocate.
Tanzania: Madina Kimaro,18
Madina is UNICEF Tanzania's newly appointed youth advocate for climate change action and resilience. She is a member of the Tanzania Girl Guides Association and is passionate about pursuing Accountancy. As an experienced volunteer with local and international organizations, Madina has participated in climate change workshops and delivered climate change and waste management trainings for environmental clubs in public schools. She promotes organic compost instead of chemical fertilizers and organic cooking coal instead of charcoal.
Madina is looking forward to publishing a children’s book on climate change.
USA: Kyle King, 21
When Kyle was in the 9th grade, he began volunteering for UNICEF through his high school club. By the time he was in his senior year, he was serving on UNICEF’s National Youth Council. Now a junior at Yale University, Kyle’s passion for mental health advocacy has led him back to the Council for 2022. Kyle is also a national advocate for the International OCD Foundation and works as a post-grad associate at the Yale OCD Research Clinic. He is most passionate about supporting the mental health of youth everywhere.