(S)Heroes of the UN: Jayathma Wickramanayake

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 | Worldwide | iSeek | UN Foundation

They defend the vulnerable and fight for human rights. They command forces and build coalitions for peace. And they take on the world’s toughest challenges.

Women now make up half of the senior leadership team of the United Nations. Throughout the Organization, from field operations to headquarters, women are leading the way in solving problems and creating change.

Secretary-General António Guterres has made gender equity – both within the UN and around the world – a key priority.

Meet another "(S)heroes of the UN", as highlighted by the UN FoundationJayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth

She is 28 years old and an advisor to the world’s top diplomat. As the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake doesn’t let age stop her; in fact, she is an example of the power of young people to create change.

Wickramanayake has already accomplished a lot: helping launch the UN’s first-ever strategy on youth; co-founding “Hashtag Generation” to build the capacity of young people, especially young women, to participate in politics in her home country of Sri Lanka; serving as one of Sri Lanka’s first youth delegates to the UN; helping the UN establish World Youth Skills Day; and elevating the voice of youth in the Sustainable Development Goals.

As she travels the world, advocating for the inclusion of youth, she shows no signs of slowing down.

In her words:

“To all young women reading this, aspiring to be leaders, I want to say, believe in yourself and your power to change the world. Act now, speak up, and stand up for your rights and your ideas. Demand to have a seat at the table, don’t wait for an invitation. Support and encourage other young women around you to take action and advocate for their rights too. And if you ever feel let down, remember that a young woman, just like you, is in the United Nations, rooting for you.”