Sometimes, if things aren't going your way, it's better to do things a little differently. 

And across the Asia-Pacific — a region facing numerous global crises — these 32 newly selected 2024 Global Citizen Youth Leaders Award recipients are doing exactly that. 

As global challenges like climate change, rising hunger and poverty, and conflict worsen around the world, it’s young people who are sparking change through decisive action and advocacy. 

This year, Global Citizen is honouring 32 young innovators and advocates working to address the issues perpetuating extreme poverty from across the Asia-Pacific region, helping tackle the world's biggest issues including climate, gender equity, and human rights, as part of the Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne Youth Leaders Award program. 

Roughly 4.3 billion people speaking 3,000 languages across 57 countries — 60% of the world’s population — call the Asia-Pacific home. And young people in the region — 1.1 billion in fact — have a lot to say about the way our world is changing and the solutions needed to get us back on track. 

Climate change is at the heart of this region's challenges, and young people are the key to solving them.

Centred on actively involving and uplifting young innovators spanning the Asia-Pacific region, Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne is bringing together global leaders, influencers, artists, advocates, journalists, policy experts, and over 300 exceptional young leaders from Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific area. 

With an objective to tackle the most urgent global challenges, the two-day summit and youth event will take place from March 5–6 this year in Melbourne

The 32 young innovators will receive comprehensive training, peer support, and networking opportunities, showcase their work during the event, and apply for financial grants to advance their innovative work focused on addressing issues related to climate change and ending extreme poverty.

Our team has selected 32 of the best and brightest young changemakers from across the Asia-Pacific region; here are their stories: 

Meet the 2024 Youth Leader Award Winners:

Ahmad Nisar, 19, Afghanistan
Ahmad Nisar, a mental health advocate from Afghanistan and fellowship facilitator for Orygen Global, founded Changemaker, a grassroots youth-led organisation focusing on pushing the narrative around mental health. Today, his work focuses on helping individuals develop interpersonal skills while integrating mental health and well-being into everyday life. Research, youth engagement, and his experience as an author have helped him continue to advocate for mental health at leading organisations, such as Amnesty International and Challenges Canada/WEF. 

Alanna Jane Sethi, 20, Hong Kong
At just 20 years old, Alanna Sethi is already making waves in the global world of mental health. As the founder of HOPE (Helping Our Planet Earth), a certified yoga instructor, and a student at the University of Toronto, Sethic’s mental health advocacy also extends to her role as head of wellness and human capital manager of Open Heart by Arise Asia Ltd.

Influenced by traditional Chinese medicine concepts, Sethi works with young people to develop and share accessible self-help tools, provide peer support, and improve existing mental health services and resources in her day-to-day life. Sethi’s work has been awarded by UWCSEA with the Alumni Values in Action 2021 Award and by Liv Magazine in 2022 and 2023 with the Women of Wellness: Changemakers Award and Youth Wellness Mentor of the Year Award.  
As a mental health advocate dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of others, her work is a testament to her dedication and commitment to making a difference.  

Alicia Tien, 24, Malaysia
As an entrepreneur and sustainable development advocate, Alicia Tien is also the CEO of Asia Discovery, an organisation driving the green transition to end fossil fuels and natural resource reliance across Southeast Asia. 

Asia Discovery has today successfully led projects that include guiding renewable energy companies to enter the SEA market and co-organizing the ASEAN China India Sustainability Youth Leadership Summit, helping to impact the lives of more than 4,000 youth entrepreneurs across 12 countries. Tien has had the opportunity to participate in leading start-up incubators and build partnerships across China, Europe, and the ASEAN region. Tien holds an MBA from Tsinghua University, where she founded Tsinghua University’s China-ASEAN Association, and today continues her work empowering women by hosting events and contributing to podcasts that spotlight female entrepreneurs in tech.

Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, 29, Australia
Described by Forbes Magazine as a “youthful visionary," Ashleigh Streeter-Jones has worked in youth advocacy and campaigns for over 10 years. Streeter-Jones is the founder and CEO of Raise Our Voice Australia (ROVA), a social enterprise mobilising young women and gender diverse people through campaigns, community, and education to create equitable democracy. 

Through her campaigns, politicians across the country have read speeches written by over 200 young people. She is also the Pacific Community Champion for the Global Shapers Community.

Belle WX Lim, 27, Malaysia
Dr. Belle Lim is the Executive Director and President of Future Forte inc, a not-for-profit organisation empowering female and gender-diverse international students in Australia, 2,500 of whom are Global Citizens. Lim currently works at MindTribes as a senior DEI manager, she was selected as a "23 Fellow at Schmidt Futures" International Strategy Forum, and she served as the National President '20/21 of the Council of International Students Australia, which advocated for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic by engaging with policymakers.

Lim has a Ph.D. in cancer genetics and is passionate about promoting positive changes in global health and her research into breast cancer prevention.

Bianca Manning, 29, Australia
Bianca Manning is a Gomeroi woman who currently leads the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice campaign area at Common Grace and Aboriginal-led community development work in Logan with Aunty Jean Phillips in Queensland, Australia. Through her work at Common Grace, Bianca has led campaigns on First Nations justice and climate change. Over 100 scarves have been given to and worn by Australian ministers, respected leaders, and celebrities, supported by dozens of MP meetings in Canberra and electorates to raise climate change awareness as part of the campaign.

Brigitta Maria Andrea Gunawan, 19, Indonesia
As an ocean advocate, Brigitta Gunawan leads innovative environmental education initiatives to foster meaningful ocean protection across Indonesia and the region.
As a National Geographic Young Explorer, winner of the Ocean Awards Young Initiative by Blue Marine Foundation and BOATInternational, and an EE 30 Under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education in 2021, Gunawan launched 30x30 Indonesia, a campaign aimed at driving community engagement to help prioritise marine protected areas throughout Indonesia and support the global goal of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. In 2022, Gunawan launched the 30x30 Coral Garden, with a focus on restoring local coral reefs in Bali.

Gunawan’s mission is to connect communities with the fragile beauty of our ocean through science, education, and storytelling.

Chamathya Fernando, 29, Sri Lanka
Chamathya Fernando has been a Sri Lankan youth advocate and member of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides since the age of eight. At 19, she initiated the Stop the Violence campaign in Sri Lanka, which today has impacted more than 10,000 youth in the decade since its inception. 

She currently serves on the WAGGGS World Board, the largest voluntary movement for girls and young women around the world, and has appeared as a member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force and the Core Group, which acts as the decision-making body of the Generation Equality Forums convened by UN Women and the governments of France and Mexico.

Dave Rubite, 26, Australia
Dave Rubite is a sustainability strategies and technology consultant, helping organisations reach their net-zero goals. Beyond consulting, Rubite is a freelance writer and journalist dedicated to creating social impact through storytelling and currency writing for the media company Level: Asian which amplifies the success stories of Asian-Australian leaders and artists. Rubite is known for his unwavering dedication to inspiring change and creating a brighter future, and he is currently pursuing his Master of Environment.

Devni Wimalasena, 25, Sri Lanka 
As an award-winning content creator, activist, writer, and speaker, Devni Wimalasena has taken her activism global, recently collaborating with the network CNN to promote anti-racism and raise over US $35,000 for Sri Lanka's economic crisis through grassroots campaigning. She focuses on bridging societal divides, particularly for marginalised women and youth, and is dedicated to fostering global gender equality through inclusive workplaces. 
Wimalasena’s change-making has made a meaningful impact, from building a community of over 12,000 people to conducting workshops with over 200 participants in high schools and universities about social justice issues.

As the 2023 winner of the Australian South Asian Centre Stellar Woman Award, Wimalasena has graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts in International Politics and Gender Studies and a Juris Doctorate and is currently a law graduate at Johnson Winter Slattery, an Australian law firm.

Divyangana (Divya) Sharma, 24, Australia

As a registered nurse at Epworth Emergency Department, Divyangana Sharma was awarded the Victorian International Student of the Year in 2022. Sharma promotes mental health within South Asian communities on her podcast as a passionate mental health advocate. Sharma is also active within the international student community, can be found at events supporting new international students, and is often found sipping Australia’s best coffee in one of many cafés throughout the city of Melbourne.

Gabrielle Cabodil, 26, Philippines
Gabrielle Cabodil is an intersectional youth activist from the Philippines. As global operations manager for the Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) Movement for four years, she implemented systems to ensure global solidarity, activists' wellbeing, and intersectional impact. 

She has been involved with different movements over the past eight years through communication and organisational development, including disaster risk reduction, reproductive health for women in urban poor communities, and children's rights.

Recently, Cabodil was a co-committee head for Metro Manila Pride (the task force behind the LGBTQ+ Pride March and Festival in Metro Manila), which she served on for three years. Today, she holds a degree in organisational communication from De La Salle University of Manila and is pursuing a Master of Science degree in social justice and community action at the University of Edinburgh.

Hadiqa Bashir, 22, Pakistan
As a dedicated Pakistani activist and founder of Girls United for Human Rights, Hadiqa Bashir stands at the forefront of advancing girls' rights and gender equality in her country. With initiatives spanning early marriage, sexual health, education, poverty alleviation, and climate change, she demonstrates a deep commitment to sustainable development and champions the importance of gender equality in tribal Pakistani communities to emphasise education's transformative power.

As a young leader for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and a Global Fellow for gender equality, Bashir was elected a Women Deliver Young Leader and received multiple awards recognizing her commitment to gender equality, including the Asian Girls Ambassador Award, the Acumen Fellow Award, and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award. 

Bashir continues to make significant contributions to social justice and sustainable development in Pakistan, embodying the spirit of positive change through leadership and advocacy. 

Hazirah Sufian, 27, Brunei
Hazirah Sufian, initially a geology graduate, found her calling in event management driven by her passion for social justice and youth development. Her journey into this field began with co-organizing the BIBD YES! 2020 youth empowerment summit in Darussalam, Brunei. Equipped with a Master's in Management, she joined Green Brunei — a youth-led platform to promote environmental conservation — in 2021 as a Project Development Assistant with a mission to promote sustainability across the country. Sufian has helped the organisation collect 181,467 kg of recyclables from recycling drives and 19,876 kg of waste from cleanup activities and has engaged over 26,000 youth through programs and activities.

Kha Le, 24, Vietnam
Kha (Khanh Ha) Le, born in Nha Trang and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, is the founder of BAO, an organisation that advocates for gender diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) in Vietnam. As a non-binary transgender person, Le's research and advocacy focus is gender DEI, especially in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. In addition to human rights advocacy, gender equity, diversity, and inclusion, Kha's expertise also includes sustainability, plastic circularity, and circular economies.

Le is also a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Fellow and a scholar of the CIMB ASEAN full-ride Scholarship. They were selected as a Youth Leader of the United States and Vietnam Leadership Cohort sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and Fulbright University Vietnam. They are also poets who explore alienation, estrangement, and loss in their work.

Lester Dellosa, 27, Philippines
Lester Dellosa, a Bicol-born artist-designer and nationally recognized youth leader, uses fashion as a powerful tool for environmental education and climate action. Through his advocacy, Dellosa weaves stories through captivating designs, workshops, and immersive experiences, allowing audiences to engage with the environment on a deeper level.

His passion led him to establish CICCADA, a brand that blossomed from advocacy into a force for a fashion waste-free future. CICCADA champions sustainability by crafting stunning wearable art pieces from recycled and upcycled materials. Through his art, workshops, and field immersions,Dellosa empowers learners and audiences to experience the environment not just visually, but also technically and emotionally. He is a true changemaker, using his creativity to inspire collective action towards a more sustainable world.

Maggie Blanden, 24, Australia
Maggie Blanden is a proud Palawa woman from Lutruwita country in the Australian state of Tasmania and the great-granddaughter of matriarch Aunty Ida West. She was recognized as a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Award for her significant contributions as the founder of "Naarm Law Students on Voice," an Indigenous-led, community-based, and culturally safe grassroots movement about the 2023 Australian Voice Referendum.

Blanden is a committed advocate in the gender and decolonial space, as evidenced by her involvement with the Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL) Youth Advisory Committee, and an advocate and vocalist for Indigenous self-determination, sovereignty, climate justice, Indigenous land return, and cultural management. Blanden passionately campaigns against domestic, family, and sexual violence, as well as the disproportionate representation of Indigenous women and girls in the Australian criminal justice system. 

Minh Hoang, 23, Vietnam
Minh Hoang spearheads high-impact programs at Murdoch University (Australia) Launchpad, where they leverage education, entrepreneurship, and innovation to train the next generation of purpose-driven startup founders. Combining co-creation and youth leadership, they empower these young minds and amplify their voices through strategic media campaigns.

Hoang embodies the impact of these programs. As the founder of "Agora Insights," they have built a social enterprise that harnesses the power of a community-centric digital platform to ensure more aligned and representative decision-making and governance.

Monal Bhattarai, 22, Nepal
Monal Bhattarai wears two hats, both dedicated to improving education in Nepal. As Managing Director at Canopy Nepal, she champions interactive learning and accessibility, impacting over 12,000 students across 200 schools. Her passion extends beyond borders as a founding member of Canopy France, a non-profit raising funds to amplify Canopy Nepal's impact.

Through both organisations, Bhattarai prioritises girls and gender minorities, ensuring they complete primary and secondary education. Ultimately, she empowers them to achieve financial independence and become leaders in their communities.

Nathaniel Diong, 22, Australia
Nathaniel Diong is the founder and CEO of Future Minds Network, a social enterprise that empowers marginalised youth with the future-ready skills to enter employment and even create their jobs. The network has helped students launch 3D-printing businesses, lead charities and the elderly community, and discover their dream careers in social change. 

To date, the “Future Minds” network has partnered with governments worldwide to deliver over 30,000 hours of employment training and support, helping students become more confident and job-ready.

In 2023, Diong, as part of the network, unveiled Gen Z Labs, a new strategic insights and consulting firm aimed at helping institutions unlock the unique workforce talent of Gen Z bridge intergenerational gaps, and adapt to the future of work. As of yet, the initiative has provided invaluable support to C-level executives, governments, and United Nations agencies in Thailand, South Korea, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates.

Niyati Sharma, 23, India
As the founder of a youth-led non-profit organisation, Pratisandhi Foundation, Niyati Sharma strives to eliminate shame and stigma surrounding sexual health. Through direct and indirect educational interventions, the organisation has impacted over 60,000 lives and has been featured on Forbes India, Indian Express, NDTV, and The Quint, among others. Earlier this year, Niyati authored and published “Under the Carpet: The Sex Ed Everyone Needs.”

Sharma is also a certified sexuality educator, a Diana Award 2021 winner, and holds a double major in psychology and international relations from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 

Noa Limpoco, 27, Philippines
A disabled and neurodivergent community organiser and activist, Noa Limpoco is the founder of the Neurodivergent Network, which is based in the Philippines. Today, the organisation works to spotlight neurodivergent lived experiences and advocate for essential accommodations in society and workplaces. 

Throughout her career in social impact, Noa has organised more than 600 community events, formal programs, and impact campaigns across Asia, building a robust network of over 23,000 individuals with the mission of driving positive change. 

Noa is also a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) specialising in the field of youth and climate action; for the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), organising the Asia Gender Network of gender-focused philanthropists; for the Humane League (THL), lobbying for animal rights and welfare; and for L'Oreal Philippines, championing sustainable beauty through the brand Kiehl's.

Noor Azizah, 28, Australia
A resilient Rohingya refugee, Noor Azizah has overcome adversity to become an advocate and educator. Her early life was marked by homelessness and statelessness after escaping the Rohingya genocide at age 8, yet today Azizah is now the co-founder and director of the “Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network,” a women-led, refugee-led, and Rohingya-led organization addressing Rohingya human rights issues.  

With a Bachelor's in Education and a Master's in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Sydney, Noor has earned recognition for her global impact. Awarded as one of YAIA's Young Women to Watch in International Affairs and winner of the 2023 Stellar South Asian Women Awards, she serves as an advocate on esteemed panels with figures like Cate Blanchett and Craig Foster. 

As a refugee delegate at the UN, Noor actively champions Rohingya women, contributing to global discussions on GBV, education, and statelessness. She has been appointed to Australia's inaugural Refugee Advisory Panel. 

Phatsaline Vongsaly, 28, Laos
Phatsaline Vongsaly is a mental health advocate, active volunteer in the Global Shapers community under the World Economic Forum, and co-founder of Gamlangchai, a mental health initiative run by young people for young people in Laos.

Through her involvement with the organisation, Vongsaly promotes mental health awareness, builds the capacity of the non-mental health workforce, provides peer support programs, and advocates for youth involvement in a systematic change for Laos' mental health landscape.

Qiyun Woo, 27, Singapore
Qiyun Woo is an environmental communicator and the creator of The Weird and Wild, a visual medium that makes climate science accessible through comics and visual elements. She uses comics, videos, and social media to make scientific concepts, policies, and information accessible to a digital audience.

The work of Woo has gained traction, and she has been featured in major news outlets such as Grazia, WWD, Vogue, and L'Officiel, as well as local media outlets such as The Straits Times and Channel News Asia. She has also been named a National Geographic Young Explorer by National Geographic.
As a Singaporean climate activist who uses creative storytelling with a passion for making climate science understandable, Woo is passionate about science communication and loves telling stories about complex issues. 

Raeed Roshan Ali, 29, Fiji
Raeed Ali is a results-driven professional with six years of experience in grassroots, regional, and international initiatives, specialising in campaign management, sustainable development, and climate advocacy. As the founder of Precious Plastic Fiji, Fiji's first youth-led social enterprise tackling plastic pollution, and co-founder of The Alliance for Future Generations, Fiji's largest youth-led movement focused on sustainable development, Ali has empowered young people to contribute to the Pacific climate movement through educational programs and hands-on experience.

Raeed has engaged volunteers in clean-up campaigns, successfully lobbied for a law banning single-use plastic in Fiji, and educated over 580 young people on issues related to climate activism. The success of Ali’s projects has been attributed to his expertise in program coordination, business development, and project management, as well as his commitment to fostering equitable and sustainable development in the Pacific, actively contributing to the growth of the green and blue entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Rose Singh, 23, Nepal
Using menstrual literacy and skills development for post-conflict female victims, Rose Singh is driven by her passion for gender justice. Pursuing a double degree in law in her home country of Nepal, Singh is a social-impact practitioner who has worked to facilitate period equity and transitional justice with regional and international stakeholders across the country.

Rose also has experience as a journalist and has extensively researched the socio-legal intricacies present in Nepal, with a focus on fostering accountability across marginalised communities in Nepal. To achieve her goals, Rose advocates for period positivity by enhancing access to menstruation pads in local schools and prisons, forming grassroots advocacy organisations, and destigmatizing the taboos surrounding menstruation across society. 

Singh works to empower post-conflict women victims to take up decision-making roles by equipping them with journalistic skills and fostering their agency through non-extractive story-telling mechanisms, representing Nepal at FORA's Global Summit on Gender Equality and holding spaces at the UN Women Asia Pacific event as a speaker.

Shah Rafayat Chowdhury, 28, Bangladesh
Shah Rafayat Chowdhury is an award-winning environmentalist and social entrepreneur from Bangladesh and co-founder and president of Footsteps, an organisation currently empowering more than 500,000 people across Bangladesh with safe water and sanitation access, disaster resilience, improved public health services, and livelihood enhancement programs, especially for the marginalised communities. Driven by holistic and community-driven solutions, "Footsteps" is empowering more than 591,565 people in 37 districts across Bangladesh.

Hjh Siti Norfarwizah, 27, Brunei 
As the founder and CEO of Kilang ReRoot (KRR), Siti Ja’afar has a passion for literature, project management, and entrepreneurship. Since 2020, she has advocated reducing food waste and promoting environmental sustainability for food recovery in Brunei to transform the nation's food systems through nature-based climate action solutions. Currently, she is focusing on food sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and social entrepreneurship.

A recipient of numerous entrepreneurship awards and funding competitions, Ja’afar hopes to build a growing community of environmental heroes and changemakers empowering green careers through her community-based projects promoting food security and food systems investments.

Tamara Dewi Gondo, 25, Indonesia
Tamara Dewi Gondo is the CEO of Liberty Society, a social enterprise that manufactures and sells eco-friendly business-to-business merchandise to fund the upskilling of marginalised women in Indonesia. 

With its tailoring and entrepreneurship training, the organisation has empowered 200 refugee women living in Indonesia by developing their skills and their fashion education.
Liberty Society has also worked with more than 100 companies, including global brands Samsung, Ikea, and H&M, as part of the organisation. In 2021, Liberty Society received the United Nations Women Indonesia’s Women Empowerment Principles Award and was in the top four in the World’s Youth Ecopreneur Award. 

Besides her work with the organisation, Gondo mentors various non-governmental organisations in Southeast Asia, focusing on community development and social entrepreneurship.

Tylah Farani-Watene, 26, New Zealand
Tylah Farani-Watene is a proud descendent of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa in New Zealand, with ancestral ties to Taputimu, Nofoali'i, Ngāti Maru ki Hauraki, and Fiji. 
Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, Farani-Watene is passionate about youth advocacy, sustainable development, racial justice, and civic education. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Farani-Watene had the additional challenge of undergoing brain surgery. During the recovery, she discovered her calling for global change-making and social impact. In the years since, she has devoted her time and energy to empowering and creating opportunities for underrepresented communities, particularly Māori and Pasifika youth, as she believes that the key to achieving a better world lies in activating indigenous knowledge.

Taking her passion across the world, Farani-Watene is focused on creating more opportunities for Māori and Pasifika youth to contribute to the global discourse on sustainable development, alongside being a role model for her younger sisters, Blayke and Ridley, helping them become confident Pacific women as they navigate life.

Vishal Tolambia, 27, India 

As the founder of Humanity-Centred Designs, Vishal Tolambia is an award-winning multi-disciplinary designer and global fashion ambassador for ethical and sustainable practices. 

Columbia is driven by an unwavering commitment to reshaping the fashion industry by pioneering circular recycling technology and fostering positive fashion, which today has empowered more than 150 marginalised micro-enterprises (MSEs) in India to transform textile waste and responsible materials to create planet-positive fashion.
As a staunch advocate for conscious consumerism and ethical fashion, Tolambia champions sustainable development by supporting communities through sustainable development practices. 

The prestigious cohort of Global Citizen Youth Leaders Awards will travel to Melbourne in March from countries across the Asia Pacific region to engage in peer networking alongside business, philanthropic and change-managing leaders from across the region.

The summit will conclude with Global Citizen Nights, an intimate, live music event honouring the stories of young trailblazers from across the Asia-Pacific region who are profoundly impacting their local communities in the areas of climate action, gender equity and more. The event will take place at the Palais Theatre on St Kilda’s foreshore on 6 March, headlined by the iconic Crowded House, with more artists to be announced. Start taking action now to earn your free tickets!

Global Citizen acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Bunurong peoples of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners of the unceded land on which Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne and Global Citizen Nights will be held, and pays respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.


Demand Equity

2024 Global Citizen Youth Leaders Awards: Meet the 32 Incredible Young Leaders from the Asia-Pacific

By Camille May