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Insight into Youth


Graca Machel-Mandela is a Mozambican politician and humanitarian. She is the third wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela and the widow of the late Mozambican president Samora Machel.

“Preventing the conflicts of tomorrow means changing the mind-set of youth today.”


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was deputy president of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. She was the first woman to hold the position and is the highest ranking woman in the history of South Africa.

“The future of South Africa is bright—but only if we have the audacity to believe that our youth are not a bulge to be managed but a dividend to be realized. Investing in youth in an expression of our faith in the imagination, goodness and passion of our young people—and our faith that they can create a better future for all people."

Ban Ki-moon - UN Secretary-General

“Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life. We need to pull the UN system together like never before to support a new social contract of job-rich economic growth. Let us start with young people!"


Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2002

“We must look on children in need not as problems but as individuals with potential to share if they are given the opportunity."


Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, former Managing Director, World Bank Group

"Young people should be seen as engines of growth rather than a problem to be addressed.”


Jean Ping is a Gabonese diplomat and politician who was the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union. He was previously the Foreign Minister of Gabon from 1999 to 2008 and served as President of the United Nations General Assembly from 2004 to 2005.

“In less than 20 years, 9 out of 10 young people will live in developing countries, making young people not only the builders of tomorrow, but above all the players of the present.”

Ulla Tørnæs - Member of the Africa Commission

“Africa's youth composes a huge pool of talent and energy that is currently not being fully exploited. Given the opportunity the African youth can be an important driver of change. They have the potential to lift the continent out of poverty."


Anthony Lake - Executive Director, UNICEF

“Adolescence is not only a time of vulnerability, it is also an age of opportunity. This is especially true when it comes to adolescent girls. We know that the more education a girl receives, the more likely she is to postpone marriage and motherhood – and the more likely it is that her children will be healthier and better educated. By giving all young people the tools they need to improve their own lives, and by engaging them in efforts to improve their communities, we are investing in the strength of their societies.”

Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Honorary Chair of UNICEF Belgium and UNICEF and UNAIDS Special Representative for Children and AIDS

“Adolescents do not consider themselves as ‘future adults’; they want to be taken seriously now.”


Richard P. Cincotta - Consulting demographer to the Long Range Analysis Unit of the National Intelligence Council - Half a Chance: Youth Bulges and Transitions to Liberal Democracy

“Countries with a large proportion of young adults in the working-age population (referred to as a “youth bulge”) are much less likely to attain a stable liberal democracy than countries with a more mature age structure."

Terry McCarthy, "Lost Generation," Time (23 October 2000): 35

“Youth is about renewal, fresh ideas challenging old traditions and yearning for the untried. Youth finds change inebriating, not intimidating. Youth is also impetuous, unpredictable: with the promise of a better future comes a veiled threat to tear down the past. ... Youth breaks all the rules. Youth is colorful, irreverent, entertaining, sometimes shocking, almost always rebellious. Youth is on the vanguard of fashion, music, literature and popular culture. But the young are also the first to hurl stones, to lob bombs, to rush to the barricades. Youth is, in a word, energy."


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