Tom Clarke, the digital campaigns officer at Youth For Change, shares how youth are leading a global platform for girls’ rights issues.
“Youth participation makes him happy.” That is what Tom Clarke says in his Twitter bio. As the digital campaigns officer at Youth For Change(YFC) — a global network of youth activists working in partnership with organizations and governments to tackle gender-based violence — Clarke oversees youth-focused initiatives and efforts addressing issues which affect some of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations: women and girls.
According to UN Women, at least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) in 30 countries. In most of the countries where FGM/C is practiced, the majority of girls were cut before the age of 5. Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18, as reported by Girls Not Brides. That is 28 girls every minute; one every two seconds. According to data from the Together for Girls-supported Violence Against Children Survey (VACS), one in four girls experience sexual violence before age 18 and about one in four girls’ first sex was forced. Despite the pervasiveness of these human and health rights violations, FGM/C, child marriage, and violence against women and girls are the very issues Clarke and Youth For Change are fighting to end. By creating positive and safe spaces for girls, boys, young women and young men, Clarke mobilizes youth who are implementing solutions to address violence against women; all while rallying for girls’ and women’s rights and empowerment in the process.
With youth activism teams in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, and Tanzania, Clarke recognizes young people and their power as social change agents who are catalyzing movements for gender equity and inclusion in their respective communities, and ultimately, the world.
Safe magazine chatted with Clarke about how he got involved with Youth for Change; why youth voices are integral to the global conversation; and how young people can get involved in making a difference in their communities.