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5 Millennial Leaders to Watch on International Youth Day

August 11, 2016 3 minute Read by Shannon Bradford
Marking this week's International Youth Day, we're highlighting five young people who are making a difference in their communities through innovation and advocacy.

This year’s International Youth Day emphasizes the critical role adolescents play in poverty eradication and sustainable development. As part of that theme, we’re highlighting five young people who are impacting both their local and global communities through innovation and advocacy.

  • Esraa Saleh, Egyptian founder and managing director of technological company Biopical at just 23 years old, is the originator of a water purification system that generates energy through the use of algae. Read more about her (and other successful Middle Eastern female entrepreneurs) here.
  • Mariana Costa Checa, co-founder and general director of social enterprise Laboratoria in Peru, trains women in the information technology sector and helps them locate employment. Read more about this young entrepreneur’s tenacity (and others like her) here.
  • Kiara Nirghin, recipient of the Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award in the Middle East and Africa, pioneered a super absorbent polymer made from orange and avocado peels. Her discovery is an eco-friendly solution for hydration of crops that will change the way drought is addressed in her native South Africa and beyond. Read more about this remarkable 16 year-old here.
  • Onaba Payab, 2014 American University of Afghanistan valedictorian and 2015 Global Women’s Network participant, champions the rights of girls in her home country. It is her belief, as the first female valedictorian at AUAF, that equal access to education will bring about real change in transitioning societies. Watch Onaba’s moderated conversation with Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama here.
  • Vivian Onano, keynote speaker at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 and Youth Advisor to the United Nations Women Civil Society Advisory Group, advocates fervently for the eradication of poverty, gender-based violence and discrimination, and youth-based biases. At the age of 25, her fight for lasting societal change in Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa has shone a spotlight that countless global leaders have heard. Read more about her here or join us in person or online on September 20 for the Bush Institute’s women’s empowerment panel at the 2016 Concordia Summit.

In celebration of this August 12 holiday, each story points to a larger truth—that by embracing the innovative, socially-minded capabilities of millennials, we can work more harmoniously to address poverty and sustainable development around the world.

Note: The summer issue of the "The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute"  also explores the role youths play in leadership and community advancement. Read more here: http://www.bushcenter.org/catalyst/next-generation/index.html.


Shannon Bradford
Shannon Bradford

As an associate of Global Initiatives, Shannon Bradford aids the work of the Human Freedom Initiative and Women’s Initiative through research, implementation, and logistical support. Her areas of focus include the Women’s Initiative Fellowship, Liberty and Leadership Forum, and the First Ladies Initiative. 

Prior to joining the George W. Bush Institute in November 2015, Shannon provided communications, media, and marketing support to Amal Women’s Training Center in Marrakech, Morocco, an organization dedicated to job and life skills training for disadvantaged Moroccan women.

A native of Coppell, Texas, Shannon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from Texas A&M University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She is a two-time recipient of the Department of State National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship through which she spent nine months in North Africa. Shannon is a proud alumna of Ursuline Academy of Dallas. 

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