Kathy and Achie WGS quote graphic copy

You can’t talk about the future without talking about young people. And you can’t talk about young people, without including their voices.

United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin brought that message today to a summit in Dubai about how innovation can help governments better deliver services for their citizens – a key priority as governments, alongside the private and citizen sectors, move from agreement to action on the global goals for sustainable development.

Her message was simple: No one can better deliver the message for youth than youth themselves.

So in a surprise for the audience, Calvin invited a girl leader from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to join her onstage to speak about what youth want for the future. Achie, a teenager, mentor, and champion for girls with the group Let Girls Lead, which is supported by the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, powerfully showed why young people aren’t just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the leaders of today and tomorrow. As Achie prepares to start university in the fall, her future is only getting brighter.

Speaking on behalf of her generation, here are some of Achie’s key quotes:

– I envision a world where hard work can lead me to success, where the world stretches out its arms and embraces girls.

– I see no better alternative, nothing more sustainable, than investing in girls.

– If you ask me, this is what I want: A world where I won’t feel voiceless.

– Education is not ABCs, or knowledge of a branch of science, research, or technology. It is acquiring the force to break down shackles of poverty, shake up mountains, defy social boundaries in order to soar to great heights.