In anticipation of International Youth Day on the 12th of August
International Youth Day is on the horizon, and it’s not just another date on the calendar. For a place like South Africa, where a whopping 55.75% of the population is under 25, it’s a wake-up call. Zoom out, and the global scene echoes this call—16% of the world’s population comprises young people. This remarkable demographic represents a reservoir of potential that can shape our future.
We, the youth, are the dynamite of tomorrow. We’re the ones who dare to dream, question, and challenge the status quo. We are brimming with energy, innovation, and resilience. We are the architects of tomorrow, the voices that echo change, and the hands that build a new world. Yet, our path is fraught with obstacles. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Education and healthcare can feel like a game of chance, where the odds aren’t always in our favour.
Can Social Media and Pop Culture Lend a Hand?
Absolutely! In this digital age, our phones and screens aren’t just for selfies and memes—they’re powerful tools for change. Pop culture and social media are powerful allies in this endeavour. Social media platforms can help us voice our concerns, share our stories, and connect. Pop culture, too, has a role to play in pushing for change—it can challenge stereotypes, spread awareness, and inspire action. These tools can be harnessed as mediums to address our challenges, serving as instruments that enable dialogue, awareness, and engagement. Spaces where our voices can be heard, ideas can flourish, and societal changes can be catalysed.
Change doesn’t happen by wishing upon a shooting star—it takes collective action and grit. Solutions to youth challenges have to be multifaceted. Alongside leveraging modern tools like social media, we must focus on educational reforms, job creation, mental health support, and inclusivity.
Initiatives like ‘YouthLab’ and ‘ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ offer glimpses of what’s possible when youth are empowered to lead; they illustrate how empowering youth to lead can have tangible and far-reaching effects. By putting young minds at the forefront, YouthLab ensures that youth perspectives are not merely included but are central to the decision-making process in their youth-led think tank. ACTIVATE! connects and inspires young people to drive positive change across South Africa. They embody the principle that youth are not just the future; they are the present, and their active engagement can shape a more inclusive and dynamic society.
This is more than just about us—it’s about the kind of world we’re shaping. By giving young people a fair shot, we’re fuelling socio-economic growth, boosting creativity, and laying the groundwork for a more inclusive, more just world. Recognising and empowering youth is not a distant ideal but an urgent necessity.
We should facilitate a broader discourse. How do we envision the future? What steps can we take towards youth empowerment? Celebrating International Youth Day, let’s reflect, analyse, and ideate toward a more inclusive and youth-centric South Africa; create an environment that nurtures their potential and unique abilities, values their contributions, encourages innovation, and supports their growth.
And to every young person out there—you are the energy we need, the change we hope for. Let’s take this journey together for ourselves and the generations to come. Your potential is vast, and your contributions are invaluable. Harness your strengths, leverage your unique perspectives and drive the change you wish to see.
To our indefatigable youth, the catalysts of an energetic today and a promising tomorrow – Happy International Youth Day!
About the author:
Ramadimetja is a freelance writer who uses her writing skills to advocate for and raise awareness and understanding of social justice, mental health, education and youth development. She strives to create insightful and thought-provoking work, often highlighting underrepresented issues and challenges marginalised communities face.