Generation Connect: Amplifying Young Voices To Advance Digital Inclusion


Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

Young people around the world are powerful drivers of innovation, highly motivated to improve their own lives and the lives of their families and communities. The Generation Connect initiative gives them a voice, with the opportunity to be empowered, to be engaged, and to help advance the global digital development agenda for present and future generations, writes DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN.

Generation Connect encourages global youth to participate as equal partners alongside the leaders of today’s digital change.

Led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the initiative empowers young people with skills and opportunities to advance their vision of a connected future.

In addition to welcoming young people to actively participate in digital development, it provides a platform for them to connect and act on issues they care about and mobilizes youth worldwide to close the digital divide.

Along with initiatives like Generation Equality and Generation Unlimited, the Generation Connect initiative aims to put the voices of youth at the forefront of international advocacy for digital societies.

Through the Generation Connect Regional Youth Groups, diverse young people are able to virtually feed into regional discussions relating to digital technologies. Each ITU regional office has selected 20-30 young leaders to collaborate on crowd-sourced projects for the consideration of regional stakeholders. The groups participants remain members of Generation Connect Community beyond their regional assignments.

ITU formed the Generation Connect Visionaries Board —including eight competitively selected young leaders – specifically to champion youth voices. As board members, those eight young leaders now work side-by-side with eight high-level appointees to advocate meaningful youth engagement in digital cooperation.

The board brings together valuable expertise and vast experiences from the private sector, public sector as well as international organizations. Each board member’s perspective enriches the whole initiative, especially in this challenging time of the COVID-19 crisis.

Generation Connect Visionaries Board ITU

Enlisting diverse youth representatives alongside high-profile appointees has created the essential dynamic that Generation Connect represents. Today’s challenges can only be tackled collaboratively, and young people must be included in the consequential decision-making processes.

The Generation Connect Visionaries Board will also offer strategic guidance in the implementation of the ITU Youth Strategy ahead of the inaugural Generation Connect Youth Summit, set to precede the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-21) scheduled for November.

The three pillars of the ITU Youth Strategy are: Empower, Engage and Participate.

Through the commitment and contribution of the board members, Generation Connect can bring young people closer to high-level decision making. Their input can help in finding concrete solutions to challenges all youth face today. Ultimately, this could be a pivotal step in bridging the digital divide.

“Young people are at the forefront when it comes to adoption of new technologies, constituting the largest demographic of users, developers and shapers of digital trends globally. Ensuring that their voices and perspectives are included in the international digital development dialogue is key to engaging new ideas, and vital in sustaining the representation, interest and partnership of the next generation in achieving our collective digital development goals, “said Young Digital Technology Expert and Founder, Bolutife Adisa

“I said yes to joining the Generation Connect Visionaries Board because universal and meaningful connectivity is a defining challenge of our generation. I hope we succeed in bringing new and innovative ideas to the conversation on digital inclusion, and to highlight the importance of digital inclusion for women and girls in economic participation,” commented Disruptive Technology lead at IFC, Alexa Roscoe

“We are arriving at a truly historic moment in time. Through technology, we have the potential to build a future in which no one gets left behind. I said ‘Yes’ to joining the Generation Connect Visionaries Board to see that potential through,” stated  Model and Tech Entrepreneur, Sinead Bovell.

“As a board member, I look forward to working towards incorporating the unique set of experiences and perspectives the youth bring to address the pressing concerns of digital and ideological divide. I believe as an engineer, the opportunity will further empower me to act as the bridge where technical aspects are understood and thus an effective framework is set up to foster a sustainable growth and engagement by the youth,” offered Young Engineer and Founder, Ihita Gangavarapu.

*Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau

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