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Meet the "16 x 16" young leaders!

'16 x 16' is a new global initiative, implemented by UNDP's Youth Global Programme, and supported by the Government of Italy, launched in April 2019 during the ECOSOC Youth Forum 2019.

The aim is to recognize, value and support the positive role that 16 young women and men play as leaders of youth organisations, movements and networks. On a daily basis, these impressive and bold young leaders advance SDG16 implementation, monitoring and accountability, and meaningfully contribute to building peaceful, just and inclusive societies at all levels.

This '16 x 16' group is invited to participate in the preparatory conference on SDG16 in Rome, Italy, in May 2019, and will collaborate with UNDP Youth Global Programme and partners throughout the year, around SDG16 implementation, and linking SDG16 to other global agendas.

Please find below their short biographies. For any questions, you may contact youth[@] and follow us @UNDP4YOUTH #Youth2030 #16x16 on Twitter!


Ms. Ameyovi Alice GOZA - Alice is a young human rights activist from Togo. She is the Founder and President of the International Association of Women and Young Leaders (AIFJL) which unites young women and young men from Togo, with the primary goal of promoting women's leadership and encouraging youth participation in a culture of democracy, governance, human rights and peace. She is also the co-chair of ECOWAS women network in conflict prevention and mediation (FemWise-ECOWAS). Alice has worked with civil society at national, sub-regional and regional levels for the past seven years. She has participated in several leadership, civic engagement and peacebuilding programs, attended an accelerated training at the Dakar Regional Leadership Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, with a focus on politics and communications, and is pursuing a master’s degree in decentralization and local governance. She is public policy, gender and peace officer for the National Concertation of the Civil Society of Togo (CNSC-Togo), rapporteur of the CSO Working Group on SDGs in Togo, and member of the Working Group on Women, Youth, Peace and Security in West Africa (WGWYPS/WAS/UNOWAS). She was nominated and awarded, "The Woman Human Rights Defender of the Year 2019 in Togo" and was one of the 100 young people consulted by the African Union on the role of youth and women in the fight against corruption in Africa, in 2018, and she is the initiator of a campaign to say No to all forms of violence against women.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Human Rights; Gender and Peace; Monitoring of Public Policies; Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Sustainable Development, Governance.

To follow Alice on Twitter: @AliceGoza


Ms. Ana Carolina QUEIROZ - Ana is a young Afro-Brazilian woman, born and raised in São Paulo. Between 2018 and 2019, she took a gap year to work in Vale do Jequitinhonha, Brazil, which is the region where her maternal grandmother grew up. During her gap year, besides working as a project development intern at Projeto Caminhando Juntos, Ana developed and co-coordinated Ponciá, an initiative that aimed at improving, taking and creating civic engagement opportunities for children and youth from Vale do Jequitinhonha. The initiative was developed at local level to help children and youth acquire tools that would help them understand and reshape their realities, such as designing and demanding access to public policy. Ana is currently an undergraduate in Economics at Stanford University, and she is particularly interested in the ways data can be used to tackle social issues. After returning from her gap year, Ana has worked as an undergraduate research assistant at the Stanford Human Trafficking Data Lab, and she currently holds a position as research assistant at a center for Brazilian education at the university.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment and Participation; Citizenship Education; Children and Teenagers' Rights; Civic Engagement; Leaving no-one behind.

To follow Ana on Twitter: @anacarolinapq98



Ms. Antonina RISHKO-PORCESCU - Antonina is the Secretary of EvalYouth, a global network of and for young people, which unites young and emerging evaluators from all over the world, for the inclusion of youth and young people into evaluation, offering capacity development opportunities (mentoring, webinars & e-conferences) and supporting young evaluators’ empowerment in professional organizations. Antonina is also the initiator and co-Chair of the Regional Chapter of EvalYouth in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Caucasus. Antonina has a PhD in Sociology, from the Institute of Sociology NAS Ukraine, and is experienced in social research and evaluation (e.g. civil society empowerment, advocacy campaigns for evidence-based policy and youth involvement into evaluation).

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Evaluation; Participation in decision-making; Advocacy; Evidence-based Policies.

To follow Antonina on Twitter: @antonina_rp


Mr. Charles KAJOLOWEKA - Charles is a Human Rights Activist, Founder and Executive Director of the Youth and Society (YAS), a local human rights and governance civil society watchdog in Malawi. The core mission of YAS is to promote and defend human rights and democratic governance in Malawi, through capacity building, advocacy, public interest litigation, civic education, and research, with a focus on young people and marginalized groups. He plays a critical role in mobilizing and inspiring Malawian citizens -particularly young people- to actively participate in public policy and governance discourse at all levels in Malawi. At the age of 32, he is a prominent Anti-Corruption Campaigner in Malawi currently providing leadership in confronting 6 high profile corruption cases through the courts. Last year (2018), he was named “Malawi’s 2017 Personality of the Year” for his prominent role in anti-corruption drive in Malawi. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellowship and the Mandela Washington Fellowship and studied civic leadership at the University of Virginia (UVA) in the USA in 2015, as well as of the International Anti-corruption Academy (IACA) fellowship, based in Austria. He is also the Founder and Team Leader of a prominent Youth Governance Campaign in Malawi branded “Youth-Decide Campaign (YDC)”. In April 2019, he was appointed by the Government’s Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) to serve in a high profile “Oversight Committee”, which has been set up to oversee the review of the 2008 Malawi’s National Anti-corruption Strategy (NACS). In addition, he is a Board Member of the St. Johns Mission Hospital, and between 2017 and February 2019, he served in the Mzuzu City Council (Local Government Authority) as a no-voting Council Member representing the youth, working in various committees including the Planning and Development Committee, Finance and Audit Committee, and Youth and Environmental Affairs. With over 10 years of experience working in the youth sector, he brings to the 16 x 16 initiative relevant experience in governance and human rights advocacy, organization building, youth-led anti-corruption movement building, drive and ‘youth agency building’, and hands-on experience in building innovative ways of confronting corruption, and mobilizing citizens and other actors in rallying behind the accountability initiatives at different levels.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Anti-Corruption; Activism; Accountability; Oversight; Political participation.

To follow Charles on Twitter: @CKajoloweka


Ms. Dalia Francheska MARQUEZ ANEZ - Dalia is the President of Juventud Unida en Acción/ Youth United in Action in Venezuela, which supports skill-building and convenes workshops on human rights, peacebuilding, entrepreneurship, leadership and other areas, with a view to support young people’s resilience in a hostile environment. She is a lawyer specializing in Family Law. She holds a Diploma in Public Policies for Democratic Development for the Americas and is an Activist, Peacebuilder, Feminist and Human Rights Defender, with more than 7 years of experience in volunteering and activism. She is a member of several international and regional youth networks (e.g. Youth Network of the Americas; Latin American Network for Democratic Development; Ibero-American Network of Women; Global Youth Ambassador for Education; Organization of American States’ Women's Leaders Committee; Regional focal point for Latin America on Goal 5 for the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth) and is a ‘Peace Rebel’. Dalia is highly committed to building a more just, peaceful and inclusive world.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Leadership; Activism; Peacebuilding; Latin America.

To follow Dalia on Twitter: @franchezcama




Ms. Elisha BANO - Elisha is the Founder and Coordinator of Act It Network: Empowering youths through the use of creative arts to address social issues in their communities. She holds a BA and Post Graduate Diploma in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Affairs. Elisha was the first Fijian to receive the Queens Young Leader (QYL) award (2015) and she was the Pacific regional finalist for the Commonwealth Youth Worker award (2016). With over a decade of experience partnering with grassroot communities, the government, the CSO sector and international communities, Elisha is passionate about youth development, creative arts and culture. She brings to the ‘16X16’ table her Pacific perspectives, indentured history and rich experience collaborating with young people from the Pacific, plus a Commonwealth network. Elisha, with Act It Network, initiated the Youth Fest and the first Hiroshima memorial in Fiji.

Keywords: Artivist; Feminist; Youth Empowerment; Youth Development; Culture; Creative Arts; Pacific; Large Ocean States (LOS).

To follow Elisha on Twitter: @act_itnetwork & @royalbano_fj



Mr. Emmanuel AMETEPEY - Emmanuel is the Executive Director of Youth Advocates Ghana (YAG). He is also a youth development consultant with special interest in governance, participation and youth empowerment. Emmanuel worked as the country coordinator for Voice Africa’s Future (now Citizens Report), a Pan African-initiative aimed at empowering young people to better demand delivery on Agenda 2030. He was a mentor for Restless Development`s Accountability Advocates Project, which aims to empower young people with knowledge, skills and networks needed to analyze official data and generate their own in order to track progress towards national and international development such as the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2017, Emmanuel launched the African Youth SDGs as the largest forum on the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa which attracted over 1,400 delegates of young leaders and policy makers from Africa and beyond, and which has become a rallying point and a catalyst for partnerships with local governments, CSOs, local UN systems. He holds Bachelor of Arts Degree in Development Studies from the Presbyterian University College and Executive Certificate in Development Policy and Practice from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Keywords: Governance and Participation; Youth Empowerment; Sustainable Development Goals; Peace; Culture; Leaving no-one behind.

To follow Emmanuel on Twitter: @ametemma


Mr. Jagdish Kumar AYER - Jagdish is the President of the Association of Youth Organizations of Nepal (AYON). AYON is an award-winning national network of 92 youth organizations across Nepal working on youth and development, including by contributing to SDG implementation in Nepal. He has played an important role in bringing youth organizations together to work for the monitoring and implementation of SDGs in Nepal. He is particularly interested in Goal 3, Goal 4 and Goal 16. Before being elected as President of AYON, Mr. Ayer served as an Executive Board Member and various positions at AYON. He was initially involved as a member of the Youth Connection Center (YCC). After the massive earthquake in April 2015, Mr. Ayer contributed to the relief and recovery efforts and worked with remote earthquake-affected communities of Nepal as a volunteer. He also led youth work camps to involve youth in the reconstruction and rebuilding of earthquake-affected communities. During his tenure as Member of the Executive Board, he led various campaigns, programs, training, conferences, and projects implemented by AYON. He also played an important role in AYON’s campaigns and initiatives (Youth Mock Parliament, National Youth Assembly, AYON School of Leadership, Youth for Free and Fair Election, 16 Days of Activism, etc). and represented AYON in the Right Here Right Now (RHRN) Platform and the Young Female Leadership Forum (YFLF). He champions sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. He participated in the 6th Asia-Pacific Youth Forum on Sustainable Development held in Thailand, the 9th Asia-Pacific Conference on Reproductive & Sexual Health and Rights in Vietnam, and the Youth SAARC Summit organized in Nepal. He also used to serve as the President of the Junior Red Cross Circle. Mr. Ayer is a student in Physics.

Keywords: Youth Leadership; Youth Empowerment; Participation in Decision-Making; SDG Implementation and Monitoring; Elections; Gender Equality.

To follow Jagdish on Twitter: @jagdish_iyer



Mr. Karim HABIB - Karim is the co-founder and CEO at Educuality. an Egyptian Educational NGO which focuses on education for SDGs, peacebuilding and environmental awareness. Educuality has developed a Curriculum for peacebuilding in the Egyptian society (as a first milestone) focusing on stopping violence, promoting debate and negotiation and raising awareness about children and youth as peace agents. He studied engineering, graphic design and fine arts.  He used to serve as project manager at Teens club, an Egyptian NGO working on alternative educational solutions and as a content creator with Dentalia (an Egyptian students association delivering medical knowledge to suburban areas in Egypt).


Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Education; Advocacy; Peacebuilding; Art and Peace; Debating; Science.

To follow Karim on Twitter: @a_karimhabib



Ms. Lynrose Jane D. GENON - Lynrose is a member of the Executive Council of Young Women+ for Peace and Leadership (YW+PL-PH), a network of young women and young LGBT leaders from the Philippines who are agents of peace and advocates of human rights, women's rights, gender equality, and peace and security. She is also the co-Director of Project YACAP (‘Youth Amplifying, Co-Creating and Advocating Peace’), a youth leadership development program for peace which envisions to build a network of young people in Mindanao with a view to nurturing the culture of peace. She is currently a Faculty Member at the Department of English of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), where she teaches Public Speaking, Writing, Literature and Fundamentals of Peace Education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Master of Arts degree in Culture and Arts Studies. She focuses on Youth Leadership, Education and Peace.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Youth Leadership; Peace Education; Young Women; Gender Equality; Sustaining Peace.

To follow Lynrose on Twitter: @LaDamaElleSa


Mr. Neville CHARLTON - Neville is the Founder and Chairman of Youth Inspiring Positive Change JA. Ltd | Positive Org, a registered Non- Governmental Organization that engages youth in in development, volunteerism, social change, peacebuilding and adjunct fields. The organization trains young people around social issues, honing their unique skills in creating innovative approaches to tackling Jamaica’s social issues and creating spaces for growth and empowerment of the country’s youth. He has collaborated with several NGOs/groups working across Jamaica to achieve youth empowerment and representation, gender equality, conflict resolution and developing a culture of peace in volatile urban centers. Neville currently serves as the Chief for the Jamaica Hurdles Crew, which provides a safe space for hundreds of youth to volunteer in sports at Jamaica’s Major track and field events since 2008. He is an ambassador for ‘I Believe’ — a youth empowerment initiative of the Governor General of Jamaica- and also serves as the Country Coordinator of Jamaica for the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassador Network. He also served as a National Youth Parliamentarian. Neville attended the University of Technology where he pursued his Ba. in Communications Arts and Technology. He is currently attending the University of the West Indies where he is pursuing his Bachelors in International Relations. Neville lives by the mantra, “Change Starts With Me”.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Culture of Peace; Conflict Resolution; Youth in Urban Settings; Gender Equality; Youth for Peace.

To follow Neville on Twitter: @nevpositivemeds and @positiveorgja



Mr. Philip SUBU - Philip is currently an Executive Member of the Malaita Youth Caucus, a body established to represent the collective views of Malaita young people to the National Government (Solomon Islands). Philip is also a member of the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption - Solomon Islands (PYFACSI), an NGO supporting young people's roles as anti-corruption advocates. Additionally, Philip is the Vice-President of Solomon Islands People's first Party, the co-Founder of the Pacific Grassroots Development Innovation Nexus -a Social Enterprise established to scale up social impact and social innovation in the Pacific- and the Executive Advisor to Malaita Youth in Business Association

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Anti-corruption; Innovation; Social entrepreneurship; Grassroots.

To follow Phillip on Twitter: @PhillipSubu


Mr. Rene DIAZ - Rene is the Founder of Helping Honduras, and co-Founder of the Youth Network of Jutiapa. After being himself a victim of gang violence, he has worked directly with young people in high-risk urban and rural communities. Through volunteering, advocacy, training and networking, he promotes peace, development and young people’s active participation as agents of social change. He has worked for 8 years with Honduran young people, was trained at the Autonomous University of Honduras and is now an exchange student in Brazil (Master, International Economics, with an Organization of American States Scholarship), and carrying out research on young people and their participation in the economy of the region.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Volunteering; Youth Communities; Gang Violence; Advocacy; Social Media for Peace; Peacebuilding.

To follow Rene on Twitter: @Renebomblog 


Ms. Samira Fatma BARUCIJA - Samira was born in 1994 in Sarajevo. She is currently pursuing her BA in English Language and Literature, at the University of Sarajevo. She has been active in civil society for nine years as an activist and an educator and promoted peacebuilding work in her local community working closely with youth. Her first volunteering experience happened during high school, when she took part in student's exchanges and international projects related to topics of communication, reconciliation and peacebuilding. Under the roof of the Center for Education and Research Nahla, together with colleagues and friends, she founded ‘Youth Club Tignum’. Her first activities were connected to personal and professional growth, gender equality, dialogue and peacebuilding. During her studies, she contributed to founding the ‘Student Association of Faculty of Philosophy (STAFF)’ and held several positions related to improving students’ conditions and standards. Currently, she is a youth worker, a peacebuilder and an educator for the local NGO, ‘Youth for Peace’, a grassroots organization created in 2014, in Sarajevo; the NGO has positioned itself as one of the most prominent youth organizations in BiH, working in the field of dialogue, reconciliation, and peacebuilding, run by young people for the sake of young people. Currently devoted to facilitating workshop and seminars for young people on topics of dealing with the past, deconstruction of narratives, dialogue and peacebuilding. Samira is also a Youth Leader for an international organization called United Religions Initiative.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Youth for Peace; Reconciliation; Peacebuilding; Development; Leadership; Motivation.

To follow Samira on Twitter: @SamiraFBarucija



Ms. Sihem NASRAOUI - Sihem is a 23 year-old activist leading the ‘Peace Lab Kasserine’, within the network of the Peace Lab project founded by the Young Leaders Entrepreneurs (an NGO that advocates for entrepreneurship as a way to build resilience to violent extremism). She has been responsible for formalizing the entity onboarding local leaders, implementing action plans and supporting capacity development initiatives counter violent extremism in the region. She also supports relevant work around UNSCR 2250 in Tunisia. She is the coordinator of ‘Kasserine Catalyst’ which is part of the Spanish-Tunisian cooperation to fight xenophobia and hate speech. Sihem believes that science and coding can bridge understanding between cultures, using them for social good (e.g. e-solutions for peace and positive messaging online). Sihem currently studies Computer Science Engineering in ISAMM Manouba.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Peacebuilding, Capacity Development; Young Women; Innovation; Entrepreneurship, C/PVE; Youth for Peace.

To follow Sihem on Twitter: @sihemnas


Ms. Wevyn MUGANDA - Wevyn is a young human rights activist from Mombasa, Kenya. Through her blog, ‘Beyond the Lines’, she is changing and disrupting the narratives of violent extremism through raising awareness and educating the online community on how to enhance peace and security. She also has a film project, ‘Kauli Zetu Mtaani’ that seeks to amplify the unheard voices of young people in informal spaces through discussions on social issues. She was involved in the development and the pilot implementation of the Mombasa County Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and the Rome Youth Call to Action. In March 2019, she received the ‘She Can’ award for her outstanding work in advancing human rights and increasing access to justice for women affected by violence. In July 2019, she was invited to brief the United Nations Security Council on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2250 and 2419 on Youth, Peace and Security.

Wevyn has an undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science. She is the Coordinator for Mutual Aid Kenya in Mombasa, a Covid-19 response initiative working with communities in informal settlements of Mombasa and Nairobi. She is Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI) alumna and has participated in different programs such as the UNESCO APCEIU Global Citizenship program, and the Digital Grassroots Program. She is the Deputy Secretary General for the United Nations Youth Association of Kenya and serves in the Advisory Board for Mombasa Women Social Justice Centre and Kilifi Social Justice Centre. Previously, she was Programme Coordinator for HAKI Africa, a national human rights organization in Kenya.

Keywords: Youth Empowerment; Human Rights; P/CVE; Community Engagement; Policy Development; Access to Justice; Community Mobilization; Digital Citizenship.

To follow Wevyn on Twitter: @Wevyn


Stay tuned @UNDP4YOUTH #16x16 and #Youth2030

For any inquiries on this UNDP initiative supported by Italy, please contact [email protected]