Young Canadians: the missing voice in International Development
As a first-generation immigrant, I have often felt split between two identities, two countries, and multiple cultures and languages. In 2014, I got to visit Pakistan, a place often highlighted in the media for all the wrong reasons, and the place where I was born.
My trip was a wake-up call. It was the first time I had witnessed firsthand the overwhelming poverty and inequality that so many people around the world face. It also made me aware of my own privilege and the power I have to help move the needle on eradicating poverty and inequality. So International Development Week is really important to me as a young Canadian for many reasons. By celebrating Canadian contributions to poverty reduction in the developing world, we can use this week it as a way to build support for maintaining and improving upon these efforts. But it’s also important to me to participate on a personal level.
There are about 11,500 kilometres between my hometown in Pakistan and my home in Canada, and I remember once thinking I was powerless to make a difference somewhere that felt worlds away from my own. But studying international development and learning about grassroots organizing has shown me that making a difference isn’t impossible. Innovative approaches and programs that invest in the economic stability of women, or that give girls access to quality education and opportunity, are making new opportunities come to life.
The Repercussions for Us
We live in a time of rising disparities: economic inequality, precarious labour, gender inequality are widening the gap between the rich and the poor. We are witnessing global unrest, political instability and migratory crises—issues that we, as Canadians, should be actively engaged with. I do not believe we can disregard these problems, even if it seems like they do not directly impact our daily lives, as they will eventually have deep repercussions for our generation and those to come.
While this week is about celebrating achievements, it is just as important to acknowledge that there is still a lot to be done. Holding the Trudeau government accountable to its commitment to “restoring and renewing” Canada’s international assistance and “re-engaging globally” requires young Canadians to be heard—the voices of people like you and me.
This year’s theme for International Development Week is “Leave No One Behind: Canada Contributes to Global Goals”. I urge you to think deeply about your role as a global citizen, to think about which social issues hit home for you and what steps you will take towards becoming advocates of peace, justice and equality. Find out more about innovative grassroots projects happening abroad.
Take action now: Tweet this or your own message of support to Prime Minister Trudeau and urge him to take action: