Young people make up more than half of the world’s population and they are the largest group of Internet users. On the 24th of September 2018, the UN launched Youth2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy. By partnering with young people, the UN Youth Strategy aims to recognise the resilience of young people around the world, address their needs and empower them to achieve their full potential.
Two years on from the launch, through Twitter’s open and conversational nature, we’ve seen countless examples on Twitter of young people leading impactful movements around the world on issues like climate change and social justice - empowering them to have a voice on issues that matter most to them.
Throughout August - #YouthMonth2020 - Twitter collaborated with the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth to raise awareness of the work being done by the youth of today. We collaborated on #YouthDay through an on-service conversation with @UNYouthEnvoy, this activation highlighted the challenges faced by youth of today, as we navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the spirit of marking the two year anniversary of the UN’s Youth 2030 Strategy, we also worked together on the first ever Twitter emoji designed by young people, for young people, across the globe.
Through a series of engaging Twitter polls and threads from @UNYouthEnvoy, young people had their voices heard on the creation of an emoji that would represent them and the work they do; from deciding on the hashtag #YouthLead, to determining what design elements the emoji should include, to voting on the final emoji design.
This emoji and hashtag aims to unify and drive an inclusive conversation on Twitter about the work young people are leading on in our local and global communities. To support this diverse and inclusive dialogue, the #YouthLead hashtag, is available in 20 different languages including Spanish, Korean and Thai.
Today, on the two year anniversary of the Youth 2030 Strategy, we are happy to launch the chosen emoji, activated on Twitter through the hashtag #YouthLead. Through this emoji, we are inviting young people from all around the world to share their perspectives on what youth leadership looks like to them — highlighting the many innovations, challenges and successes that youth continue to experience everyday.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, notes; ''Young people are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — from its immediate challenges like disruption to education, loss of employment, increased mental health challenges, and increased gender-based violence both online and offline, to its long-term socio economic impacts, young people have undoubtedly been hit the hardest. But they rose up to the challenge. As they always are during times of crisis, young people were resilient and resourceful, and they stepped up to protect and support their communities regardless of the challenges they were facing.
We are pleased to collaborate with Twitter to celebrate the resiliency and leadership that young people show every day on the streets, in the classrooms and in the frontlines by creating the #YouthLead emoji by young people, for young people to celebrate their contributions to build a more sustainable and peaceful word.”
These ideas for the #YouthLead emoji were brought to life through the artwork of young artist Seqininnguaq Qitura Poulsen. Seqininnguaq is an emerging young Inuk/Kalaaleq leader from Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) where she works on indigenous and LGBTQ+ rights as well as education and mental health. Seqininnguaq is also part of the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus where she is leading as their Arctic Focal Point.
When Seqininnguaq was bringing young peoples’ ideas to life with the emoji, it was important for her to highlight that young people can and should be empowered to have a powerful voice in important decisions being made, around the world.
To mark the launch, Seqininnguaq had a special message to young people around the world: “I know you’re struggling and no matter how much you’re struggling and what it is you’re struggling with, there is always support and help. You will find your people, you will find a place where you feel safe, accepted and loved, I promise''
Celebrating the power of youth is something that we continue to prioritise at Twitter. Throughout the year, we have partnered with youth organisations across the globe to support them, as they make use of Twitter to engage in conversations leading to change.
Our partnerships with organisations like the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, are key for us to stay engaged and educated on the needs and wants of the youth of today - we appreciate these collaborations and look forward to what partnerships like this can create in the future.
** Source: Twitter/Ipsos US national study, Sept. 2020; Young people = 18-34 year olds in the US; Young Twitter users refers to those 18-34 who report using Twitter at least once a month in the US.