Opening Remarks: Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, IMF
Moderator: Sabina Bhatia, Deputy Secretary, IMF
Natasha Mwansa, Zambian Advocate for Youth and Women
Natasha Mwansa, an 18-year-old advocate for youth and women, recounted her personal journey to activism. Ms. Mwansa described the numerous challenges facing her generation in Africa, her work at a local health clinic, and her experience overcoming bullying. She called on policymakers to more proactively engage with Generation Z, while also encouraging her peers to take action and provide solutions.
Health Care. Mwansa identified adolescent health care as one of the central issues facing her generation, as unaddressed health care issues can have cascading effects later in life. A key obstacle is lack of knowledge about health care issues and health care rights.
Child Marriage. With 12 million girls under 18 married each year, and billions spent on the consequences of child marriage, Mwansa argued that policymakers should make investments that will address the root causes of child marriage, including poverty, lack of education, and outdated social norms. Bhatia noted that a forthcoming IMF staff working paper would explore the relationship between child marriage and economic growth.
Girls and Education. At present 130 million girls aged 6-17 are not enrolled in school worldwide. Mwansa noted that without education in these formative years, girls were missing a prime opportunity for self-actualization, with long-term consequences.
“Invest and Involve Us.” Mwansa called on policymakers in the audience to invest in Generation Z, but to also let youth help decide the priority areas for investment and how these funds would be allocated.
“We have energy and so much potential, but we can’t realize any of this because our health is in danger.” Natasha Mwansa
“There is no way you can be making decisions for us, without us, because you’re doing that against us. It’s harming us. You don’t understand our story because we know it better.” Natasha Mwansa
Contributor: John Bishop