Anika Manzoor

2017 Cheng Fellow

Problem

Youth lack avenues to advocate for their rights. In a UN survey of 13,000 youth globally, youth cite an inability to influence decision-makers as one of their biggest concerns. For example, 2 out of 3 countries don’t consult young people in their creation of national development plans. Less than 2% of global parliamentarians are in their 20s. This pervasive lack of youth representation and participation is the reason why world leaders continue to fail on issues that disproportionately impact youth, such as climate change and employment. We are witness to the largest youth population in global history, with 51% of the world’s population under 30. This demographic represents a tremendous opportunity to create a global culture of civic engagement starting at a young age.

Pathway

Youth Activism Project’s mission is to spark youth activists and provide them with the skills and resources to lead sustained, impactful advocacy on human rights issues. Youth Activism Project uses an interactive curriculum and 1-1 coaching to guide young leaders from attracting their peers to their cause to creating a strong activist community to learning the research, communication, and mobilization skills that enable youth to independently advocate for change. Youth Activism Project believes that by empowering youth to create their own advocacy campaigns, youth civic participation will increasingly become a global norm.

Person

Anika recieved her MPP from Harvard Kennedy School in 2018 and is the Executive Director of the Youth Activism Project. She co-founded the Youth Activism Project’s very first campaign, School Girls Unite, at the age of 12. As a School Girls Unite leader, Anika was empowered by the substantive change she contributed to before she could even vote, such as lobbying for a $200 million increase in foreign aid for education. For Anika, these experiences propelled a lifelong determination to invest in other youths unaware of their capacity as change-makers or prevented from exercising it. As an adult, Anika has deepened her commitment to empowering underserved teens through education and civic engagement in multiple international contexts, from community organizing in Nicaragua to serving as a Fulbright ETA in Malaysia