CYFI Youth's Views on SDGs

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 to officially adopt the Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years is taking place at this very moment in New York City. CYFI continues to strongly advocate for an emphasis to be places on children and youth as a specific target group to monitor and evaluate the progress of these goals, along with their associated targets and indicators.

To bring attention to the importance of these global goals, a few of our CYFI interns came together to take part in the #LightTheWay campaign. They took this opportunity to emphasize the impact that the global goals will have on youth, and to encourage global leaders at the Summit to #LightTheWay for a better financial future for children and youth!


Here is a look at what they had to say:

GOAL 1: Ending poverty

Raluca – CYFI Intern – Romania

In the small villages of Transylvania (yes, yes, there, in Dracula’s country), the streets are dirtier, there are more social problems, the towns are more dramatic, the children are ill and thin but friendly. Romania is known for being poor. But there, in small villages, poverty is even worse. I love my country but, whenever I go back to Romania I see again sad faces, overwhelmed by their daily problems. I accept again the fact that Romanians need help. Somehow, the world leaders should look at poverty and somebody should #LightTheWay for Eastern Europe and Romania.

Global goal #1, ending poverty, can make a change for the poor Romanian children: they can wake up in the morning, put some clean clothes on and go somewhere to play, not preparing for street-begging like they now do.

GOAL 4: Education for all

Diana – CYFI Intern – Romania

I have always believed that education is one of the most important parts in one’s life. We self-educate and we are educated starting from a tender age, when the wish to learn and to understand the environment manifests itself.

Starting with children and youth, regardless of sex, race, or other variables that might be seen as an impediment, and continuing in adult life, education is an on-going process; education for all should be a long-term goal, until it becomes a matter of fact, and not an issue on the agenda. It should be achievable all around the Globe. We all want a better future, so let’s work together and help give everyone the opportunity to shape their future through education. Because education is indeed for all! I encourage world leaders to #LightTheWay and to allow all children to receive the education they deserve. It is important to keep in mind that educated children and youth means an educated nation!

GOAL 5: Gender equality

Veronika & Angela – CYFI Interns – Ukraine & Romania

The issue of Gender Equality is not about different deeds, behavior, positions in social, political life of males and females, but about the difference in access to services, labor or any social privileges. Men and women should have the same opportunities and rights. In my opinion, historically, women have been portrayed as the more delicate, gentle and vulnerable of the two sexes, and as a result, society had assigned a secondary role for women. This has also resulted in the infringement of their rights. It is unfair to perpetuate this view, men and women should decide by themselves what to do and how to behave, and have the same opportunities and rights.

A little over half of the entire population is represented by women. Gender equality means access in the same manner for both women and men to all the sectors of public and private life. The juridical status of women has been improved, but gender equality is far from being a reality. Indeed, there has been visible and huge progress: access to education and the labor market, and political representation. However, the gender differences are a fact in many countries have underlined by continuing to put the men in the traditional roles. Gender inequality in the health and education sector has decreased even in the less developed countries. The more women have access to education, the less gender inequality will exist in the process of getting a job and this will involve more women in the labor market.

We encourage global leaders to #LightTheWay for gender equality!

GOAL 8: Sustainable economic growth

Merijn – CYFI Intern – Netherlands

Finding a job in the labor market is often particularly challenging for youth. Many may not have had a proper education – because it was not available or they did not have the financial means – and many may also lack relevant work experience. Simultaneously, there may be a mismatch in the labor market between jobs available and expertise required. Or, jobs may simply not be available at all. Long term youth unemployment risks are creating a lost generation of people: no relevant work experience yet having to compete with recent graduates whose knowledge is still fresh.

I hope that global leaders will #LightTheWay and commit to their ambition of boosting job creation for youth. Youth-friendly entrepreneurial support systems – including youth oriented financial inclusion – may lead the way.

GOAL 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies

Veronica – CYFI Intern – Argentina

Goal 16 refers to the necessity of decreasing violence, abuse, trafficking, bribery and overall calls for more transparent institutions and international cooperation. Considering the meaning of this goal, I believe that it will only be when goal 16 of the SGDs is carried out successfully that all other goals will be possible to be achieved as well. The reasoning for me to claim this is simple: if a state is internally distraught and is unable to maintain a nonviolent and collected society, it will also not have the necessary benchmark to work on the more complex social issues that the other SGDs refer to. If a state is in chaos and unable or unwilling to follow the rule of law, they will not be in the position of promoting a peaceful and inclusive society and even less in the position to call for a reduction of poverty, gender equality, etc.

To summarize, I believe that it is extremely important for leaders of the world to #LightTheWay for peaceful and inclusive societies for children and youth to grow in, so that all countries around the world will be strong enough to tackle with less difficulty the other Sustainable Development Goals.

Child and Youth Finance International encourages world leaders to #LightTheWay for the success of each of the goals!

This post is part of our series of summer blog articles related to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and are authored by youth interns at Child and Youth Finance International. Join the discussion on social media by following @ChildFinance and using the hashtag #cyfiyouth.

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Can Agriculture be the solution to meet SDG Number 1 - Ending poverty?

Author: Purity Kendi Muthomi (21) from Kenya

Poverty varies considerably depending on the situation. Having lived in Kenya for 18 years, and then three years in Costa Rica, has made me realize that poverty varies depending on the situation. When I compare what is said to be poor in Costa Rica, to me I see that almost as an average lifestyle in Kenya. And when I imagine feeling poor in Canada, I see this as very different from living in poverty in Costa Rica. It is important to note that poverty is not just about lack of money - there is much more to it than we think:

Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. - World Bank

Amongst the proposed SDGs, is Goal 1: ending poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Poverty is hunger.

If we have 8 billion mouths to feed in this world, a solution must be found. According to the World Food Programme, some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life and poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year. I believe agriculture is the strongest tool to end poverty if we have to ensure the 3.1 million children receive the nourishment that they need.

Povety is not having a job.

Unemployment has caused many youth in Kenya to stagnate in poverty since they have no way to make ends meet. Most of today’s young people are expected to work to fund for their education in the Tertiary colleges, to support their families, to pay school fees for their siblings and to acquire the essential basic needs for survival.

So how to fight both hunger and unemployment?

In my experience, ensuring that agricultural extension or private services are available to train farmers in best agricultural practices and help provide access to inputs, credit to facilitate harvest loans and appropriate technologies at the time of planting is what the governments should be busy working on. Let the small scale farmers be taught how to maximize their production, how to ensure there are less, or no, post-harvest losses, how to fight what pests, insects and what weeds are robbing humanity when it comes to agriculture. Let us educate our farmers to grow crops - healthy eating – healthy spending – and healthy saving!

Through savings, I was able to start a poultry business that I had zero knowledge about and no experience at all working with poultry. I started Gespak Poultry Farm, an integrated poultry venture encompassing all sustainable techniques and whose initial idea was to ensure I come up with a circular economy that the entire world can embrace to help solve the current global issues of food security, unemployment, hunger, waste management, water treatment, climatic change and above all poverty. The company has a poultry house (pen) that has almost 1,400 chickens at the moment and out of it I have been able to generate income; I can support my family and help them meet all their needs. I sell eggs and chicken meat to fast food and hotel operators, day-old chicks to farmers and I too bag the poultry droppings and sell them to the crop farmers as manure.

The results are not only a sustainable business, but one that encourages other youth to take part in the poultry business. I believe that youth can create their own employment regardless of their level of education or experience. Out of the business, I have employed four other young people to help in the feeding, cleaning and all other activities needed in the farm and this has not only improved their lifestyle but also provided them with more knowledge and skills to even start their own businesses on the same or any entrepreneurial venture in farming.

Again, let us educate our farmers to grow crops - healthy eating – healthy spending – and healthy saving! This will help us to work together to achieve Goal 1, and to help provide young people with the knowledge, skills, and experience to take part in today’s economy.

About the author: Purity is an undergraduate student at EARTH University in Costa Rica, pursuing Agricultural sciences and Natural resources management. She is passionate about inspiring and changing the lives of young people and the vulnerable in the society. Being part of CYFI has coached her, taught her and molded her to be an Agri-preneur where she was able to start her own business.

This post is part of our series of summer blog articles related to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Join the discussion on social media by following @ChildFinance and using the hashtag #cyfiyouth.

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Gender Equality: Insights on Financial Literacy and Economic Empowerment

Author: Sana Afouaiz - Youth Advocate for Governance and Accountability at Restless Development Organization.

In their actions the Youth Governance and Accountability Task Team (The Youth Governance and Accountability Task Team is an initiative spearheaded by Restless Development, the British Youth Council, ActionAid and Plan UK) advocate for the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on governance, and the participation of young people in governance and accountability. The Governance team has also called for integration of gender equality concerns, and inclusion of young women in decision-making, this through global and national advocacy and campaigning actions in different countries. They highlighted youth priorities, with a special focus on governance & accountability, in the post-2015 development agenda by taking part and speaking at different high level meetings and global discussions in the United Nations among other international bodies.

Gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals

The draft outcome document “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, will be officially adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, which will be held in New York from 25-27 September 2015.

This is the first development agenda that has been negotiated and agreed by all Member States and which is applicable to all for the next 15 years.

The new sustainable development goals aim to complete what the MDGS did not achieve, through addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality and the sustainable development that works for all. The new agenda addresses an action plan for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. It highlights the necessity of fostering peaceful, inclusive societies and calls for the participation of all countries, stakeholders and youth. The determined agenda pursues to end poverty by 2030 and endorse shared economic prosperity, social development and environmental protection. This new agenda that is founded on 17 goals, including a goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as gender sensitive targets in other goals.

Assuring and protecting economic empowerment on an equal basis for both men and women has been acknowledged as a human right and as a concern for policymakers. Along with the strap line of United Nations in order to achieve the Millennium Development goals, women’s empowerment is seen as a prerequisite.

The importance of economic empowerment for women and girls

A number of studies and researches over the past years have highlighted that gender equality is a smart economic tool. It has been determined that the unexploited potential of women is a lost opportunity for economic progress and development. Women’s economic participation promotes agricultural productivity, enterprise expansion at the micro and macro, small and medium enterprise levels, in addition to improving business management and returns on investments.

Yet, awareness of gender differences in financial literacy and of their significant implications has endured quite low albeit policy makers now perceive financial literacy as an essential for sustainable development, and financial education has become a vital policy priority.

According to the OECD/INFE financial literacy survey, women have lower financial knowledge than men in a great number of developed and developing countries. Women tend to be less-educated and possess low-income and most of them lack financial knowledge. The survey shows that women are less confident than men in their financial skills, they are less over-confident in financial matters, and are more averse to financial risk.

When it comes to financial behavior, women seem to be better than men at keeping trail of their finances, but they face more struggles in making ends meet and choosing financial products fittingly.

Regardless of its importance, recent initiatives to measure “financial literacy” recommend that levels of financial literacy understanding are low. This typical situation limits the objective understanding of financial issues and leads to subjective interpretation.

Due the external environment challenges, it becomes a necessity for individuals to enhance their financial understanding, to make appropriate financial decisions so to reach positive outcomes. Such challenges include the decline of public welfare policies, increased life expectation and health care costs; the development of complex financial markets; and effects of the global financial crisis. Whereas the need for financial literacy is largely acknowledged as vital, though the importance of equal gender dimension stays a subject for debate. Such gender differences represent fundamental problems for social equity, with several consequences on sustainable development of countries.

Countries tend to display loss of economic potential when one half of their population is disoriented, particularly in societies where a great percentage of production takes place in informal enterprises run by women. Low levels of female financial literacy and confidence have a negative impact on their participation in the economy.

The conceptual framework that individuals face may differ according to inherent characteristics among populations of women and men that affect their chances to obtain financial literacy. These characteristics may be different: (age; personality traits; environmental constraints). Women and men experience different cultural norms, which limit where, when and how they best learn about personal finance. Studying these factors is important as they may have impact on founding relevant policy responses: effective financial education interventions necessitate addressing different root causes.

Understanding the gender causes of financial literacy in countries requires effective policy design policy, analytical and comparative reports and research highlighting good practices and detailed case studies on financial education and literacy across national and regional levels. Policy makers need to emphasize standards, principles and guidelines as well practical tools to enable and improve strategic financial education.

Investing in women promotes financial literacy and economic growth

Besides boosting economic growth, I believe investing in women has multiplier effects; women plow a large portion of their income in their families and communities. They play crucial role in creating peaceful and stable societies which are important factors for economic growth. Regrettably, even these benefits have been universally recognized and have therefore not translated into women’s full economic participation in different countries, especially in developing countries, where women still face obstacles when establishing new businesses or even increasing existing ones. Among the biggest obstacles are discriminatory laws, regulations and business conditions, with women’s lack of access to property rights, finance, training, technology, markets, mentors, and networks. According to “Women Finance Hub”: 71 countries prevent women from working in some industries. 16 countries don’t let married women get jobs without their husband’s permission, 44% countries don’t let women work at night. We can only imagine one of the reasons behind the lack of economic development of the world when half of the population is discriminated from full participation in the economic level.

Although there has been current focus on developing women’s entrepreneurship in developing countries, this spotlight has been on growth-oriented women’s businesses. Women’s entrepreneurship in micro and small business that are often measured as informal, regardless of these concentrated efforts of poverty reduction initiatives through increased access to skills training and micro-credit, still have not been able to reach the growth potential among women.

I have been working with women in different countries in Africa and Middle East, and I have noticed that the role of women in national economies is more emphasized in recent years by ensuring gender equality and women empowerment among individuals. But the fact is that women have less access to resources, education and health facilities in most of the developing countries, where women are half the workforce. Greater participation of women in economic activities is the major concern of most of the countries, which is considered as one of the best tools to achieve and attain a sustain development.

Governments need to show more financial aid to support efforts to increase women’s access to quality financial services; there is an urge need to highlight women’s crucial role in advancing agricultural development and food security, and encourage policy and programmatic support for female farmers and agricultural businesses owned by women, and reform the policy to facilitating the processes for women in this field.

More support to NGOs, industry associations, and corporations advocating for policy and programmatic solutions that would enable women’s economic participation, also enhance more technology access and providing access to mobile phones, internet, and other vital technologies along with addressing cultural, financial, educational barriers.

Provide capacity building, trainings, and mentoring programs to women and girls and equip them with market information, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the necessary skills to attain economic independence; and encourage best practices to increase women’s leadership in the sector of business and entrepreneurship.

Government states especially in developing countries need to find a solution to one of the biggest obstacles which is data collection; endorse the collection and configuration of gender data in the economic sector to create evidence-based policy and programs aimed at increasing women’s economic participation across all sectors. Governments need to provide their youth with space to hold their leaders accountable and that’s by ensuring youth participation in data collection and arrange for youth to express their innovative analyses that form the basis for recommendations to policymakers, help them make decisions and promote policies best suited to ending global economic inequalities and to generating people-centered sustainable development.

About the author:

Sana Afouaiz is an advocate in the areas of women and youth empowerment. She is the Founder of “African Youth Advocate Platform”, created this initiative after her intensive 3 years work in advocating and lobbying for youth and women issues, her striving goal to empower young people drove her to travel to more than 20 countries where she spoke and promoted for youth voices in high-level discussion meetings. Sana also assists African development by promoting the economic integration of African youth in Diaspora for “Verein Afrikanischer Studentinnen Und Studenten”.

This post is part of our series of summer blog articles related to the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Join the discussion on social media by following @ChildFinance and using the hashtag #cyfiyouth.

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