International Youth Day: inclusive digital and social innovation

Happy International Youth Day! 

This year’s International Youth Day is highlighting the efforts of young people around the world who are engaging with local, national and global institutions to solve social, economic and environmental challenges within their communities. 

In light of this year’s global pandemic,  youth continue to show their resiliency, strength and drive to support their communities during these unprecedented times. We saw this when we launched #DOTYouth Street Team –  a coordinated support network for youth in Africa and the Middle East who are responding to COVID-19 challenges in their communities – and we continue to see it in our day-to-day interactions with our youth-led movement of more than 6000 daring young social innovators.

This year, we are excited to celebrate #YouthDay by spotlighting three incredible #DOTYouth who, despite COVID-19 challenges and restrictions, are leading discussions on inclusivity  and sharing insider perspectives on what it means to be inclusive within digital and  social innovation.

Doreen Aglago-Cofie, Ghana 

Doreen Aglago-Cofie is a young social entrepreneur from Ghana who started her enterprise Heighten Up to promote women’s career advancement in cooperative organizations. After noticing that men and women globally enter the workforce at almost the same rate, men advance further in their careers than women do – and to solve these workplace biases she started Heighten Up.

Doreen shares, “One of our values in Heighten Up is inclusivity. We believe everyone is equal, no matter your gender, race, or social group. We equip women from all backgrounds with the skills they need to advance in leadership. We also focus on all organizations in every part of the world. One way social innovators can bring inclusivity into their social enterprises is by being very tolerant and open-minded. Everyone deserves a chance to be impacted by your social enterprise once they fall within your target population.”

Innocent Mbanda, Rwanda

Innocent Mbanda is the founder of Igire Rwanda,  a non-governmental organization that provides training in technology and business management to youth who have small or medium sized enterprises. 

Recognizing the gender divide within the tech industry, Innocent started the She Can Code initiative, a program within Igire Rwanda, to train young women and girls to gain skills in coding, programming and web development as well as support them to start their own tech-based businesses and to inspire and promote the inclusion of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). 

Innocent shares, “To achieve inclusiveness, I’d like to advise my fellow innovators, young entrepreneurs: whatever they have to do to make sure they include women and girls in their initiative is important. It helps innovation, it helps creativity. It brings more new ideas. In my organization, I see how the women are contributing to whatever we do, in terms of ideas, in terms of challenging us to do things in different ways, and introducing new ideas. So I’d really advise innovators in whatever they do, whatever business, whatever social innovation they have, to bring more women and men together to work towards common goals, common vision, common mission of social innovation.”

Angela Mumbi, Kenya

Angela Mumbi is the Co-founder of PsychBeing – a social enterprise that uses technology to address mental health issues and connects people to essential mental health services living in Kenya. Understanding that mental health support in Kenya is often stigmatized, Angela and her team are bridging the gap  between the community and professional therapists, and are creating awareness about mental health and wellbeing. 

Angela shares, “As we create awareness, let’s include everyone. In our society we understand that women share their experiences so easily — in markets, salons, everywhere — but for men, according to our survey with PsychBeing, it’s very hard for them to share their stories. What we need as a society — in Kenya, Africa, and the world at-large — is to talk about mental wealth. Let’s invest in our mental wealth and we’re going to improve our social relations, even economically.”

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