Around the world, young people are making incredible strides in their communities to advance education, improve gender equity, and end extreme poverty—so what if we could scale up their solutions to have a greater impact in the world at large?

In support of the incredible young innovators who are taking big swings to tackle global issues, Global Citizen launched the 2024 Youth Leaders Award program to showcase how the younger generation is taking action in their communities. 

After receiving more than 400 applications, 32 winners have been selected who will attend Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne to meet with regional change-makers and policy experts to take action on the climate, innovation, and fighting poverty.

The 2024 Youth Leaders Award winners are receiving $5,000 AUD to support and further the incredible work they are doing. In addition, they’ll be receiving comprehensive training, peer support, and exclusive networking opportunities during a three-day summit as part of Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne.

The United Nations 17 Global Goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty by tackling its root causes like hunger, food insecurity, and lack of access to education and healthcare. These goals also strive for peaceful and inclusive societies, ensuring sustainable development for all.

While 12 of these young activists are focusing their efforts on Global Goal 13: Climate Action, 20 finalists have launched diverse projects to end child marriage, drive economic growth, and raise awareness about mental health challenges. 

Take a look at their incredible work below.

Global Goal 5: Gender Equality

1. Noa Limpoco, 27, Philippines

Noa Limpoco is dedicated to community organisation and youth activism, using her expertise to raise awareness about the often-overlooked perspectives of disabled and neurodivergent individuals. As the Director of People Operations for the Society of Sustainability Practitioners and Founder of the Neurodivergent Network, Limpoco has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at fostering inclusivity and advocating for necessary accommodations in both the workplace and broader society. 

When Limpoco learned of her acceptance into this year’s cohort of Youth Leaders, she celebrated with Global Citizen: “Oh my gosh! I’m so excited, how am I going to sleep until [March]?”

She is also recognized as a National Youth Gender Activist by UN Women, underscoring her significant contributions to the global movement for equality and social justice.

2. Rose Singh, 23, Nepal

“I believe a lack of education about one’s rights leads to further oppression,” Rose Singh, a driven activist and aspiring lawyer based in Nepal, told Global Citizen as part of her application to the 2024 Global Citizen Youth Leaders Awards.

Dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalised groups, Singh has played integral roles in initiatives to further gender equality and political rights advocacy. She is particularly passionate about feminist foreign policy and its intersection with human rights, aiming to work on policy measures that promote equality in Nepal and beyond.

3. Chamathya Fernando, 29, Sri Lanka

At 19, Medhavi Chamathya Fernando initiated the impactful "Stop the Violence" campaign with the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association (SLGGA), advocating for youth education, skills development, and sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls.

“It is important for me that there is a respectful and safe environment to be working in with people from diverse backgrounds. Within my work, I create inclusive spaces by platforming the voice of the voiceless,” Fernando said in her application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “Thank you so much for the opportunity, I’m super excited.”

Since she was a child in Sri Lanka, the youth advocate has been dedicated to creating inclusive spaces for marginalized voices.

4. Kha Le: 24, Vietnam

“Being an advocate for gender DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and human rights, I profoundly believe in the power of human networks and community,” Kha Le wrote in their application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “Through Global Citizen, I want to leverage the power of global citizens across the globe.”

Le is the founder of BAO, an initiative that promotes gender diversity in higher education by hosting training sessions for students, faculty, and staff at universities across Vietnam.

 As a finalist of Global Citizen’s Youth Leaders Awards, Le will be able to connect with other youth leaders in Melbourne this March and share their work on projects that aim to transform the lives and rights of LGBTQ+ individuals living in Southeast Asia.

5. Niyati Sharma, 23, India

Niyati Sharma is the founder and executive director of Pratisandhi Foundation, a youth-led nonprofit focused on ending the stigma surrounding sexual health and empowering Indian youth. Her dedication to uplifting young leaders—and the impact she has had on over 60,000 adolescents through the Pratisandhi Foundation’s initiatives—are just two reasons why Sharma will make an excellent addition to this year’s cohort of youth leaders.

“Thank you so much,” Sharma said when she was announced as a finalist. “I’m really looking forward to it! This is such a surprise.”

6. Devni Wimalasena, 25, Sri Lanka

As a young girl growing up in Sri Lanka, Devni Wimalasena first realised the importance of securing access to equality and justice for all, particularly when faced with leaders who are dedicated to limiting human rights. 

“My advocacy transcends geographical boundaries, and my mission centres gender equality, anti-racism, disability rights, and access to justice for people of marginalised backgrounds,” Wimalasena said in her application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards.

Wimalasena moved to Melbourne at 17 and built a diverse activism portfolio, spending her time mentoring young South Asian women, advocating for aid during Sri Lanka's economic crisis, and fighting for equal rights.

7. Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, 29, Australia

When Global Citizen told Ashleigh Streeter-Jones that she was a finalist for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards, she cried out in excitement: “I’m a happy crier, so these are happy tears. Thank you for believing in me and in the work.”

Streeter-Jones is a young Australian whose work focuses on closing societal gaps, particularly those faced by women and young people from traditionally marginalised backgrounds. 

As the founder and CEO of Raise Our Voice Australia (ROVA), a social enterprise mobilising young women and gender diverse people to create equitable democracy, Streeter-Jones seeks to inspire other young changemakers to pursue careers in politics and make a difference in their communities.

Global Goal 4: Quality Education

8. Monal Bhattarai, 22, Nepal

Monal Bhattarai’s advocacy focuses on promoting equal access to education in Nepal, particularly for students from financially, socially, and culturally-underprivileged backgrounds.

“Being a part of this [cohort] will provide me the opportunity to meet other leaders who are working to create an impact in developing countries like Nepal,” Bhattarai said in her application for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “I look forward to learning from their experiences of leading an organisation and sharing my own, finding possible programs we can collaborate in, and enhancing our impact further.”

In support of Global Goal 4, Bhattarai takes care to ensure that young girls and gender minorities have the resources they need to complete their primary and secondary education in order to secure financial independence. 

9. Minh Hoang, 23, Vietnam

As just 23 years old, Minh Hoang is making waves in the tech industry by promoting a culture that centres youth leadership and interests. 

“If you’re a young leader who wants to make a difference in your community but don’t have a lot of resources, knowing how to leverage tech as a platform, as a tool, is a game changer,” Hoang wrote in their application to Global Citizen. 

Hoang creates high-impact programs at the intersection of higher education, entrepreneurship, and innovation to encourage other young people to prioritise social change as part of their missions.

10. Tylah Farani-Watene, 25, New Zealand

“I really admire the work that Global Citizen does, and this is an incredible opportunity,” Farani-Watene said when she received the news that she was invited to Global Citizen NOW Melbourne. 

Tylah Farani-Watene is a young Mori & Pasifika woman whose work focuses on empowering other Mori and Pasifika youth to become leaders and have a say in the policies and practices that impact their lives. As such, she has been on a mission to utilise Indigenous knowledge to achieve a better world.

“Truly what makes my heart beat is seeing our Indigenous and Pacific people thriving—my role in that is creating space and pushing past glass ceilings of what is expected of young Pasifika women,“ said Farani-Watene.

11. Hadiqa Bashir, 22, Pakistan

A survivor of child marriage herself, Hadiqa Bashir is dedicated to eliminating the practice of early and forced marriages across Pakistan. In pursuit of this goal, the young activist lobbies legislators and religious leaders to promote the rights of young girls and women, enforce girls’ access to education, and achieve the UN Global Goals. 

Bashir is also the founder of Girls United for Human Rights and has launched a comprehensive scholarship program to support girls’ education. Her efforts have enabled more than 150 girls to attend school, raising their potential to lift themselves out of poverty and escape child marriage. 

12. Ahmad Nisar 19, Afghanistan

Ahmad Nisar wants to change the narrative surrounding mental health for refugees and migrants. In 2022, Nisar founded the initiative Changemaker to provide access to counselling services and resources for people who have undergone intense trauma through migration and immigration.

“At Changemaker, our mission is to cater to the immediate needs of individuals through an inclusive, meaningful, and context-sensitive approach,” Nisar wrote in his application to Global Citizen. “My passion has turned individual efforts into an initiative that works to push the narrative around mental health.”

13. Nathaniel Diong, 22, Australia

Growing up as a young disabled migrant, Nathaniel Diong lacked the resources he needed to feel secure joining the workforce. Driven by his personal experience, Diong founded Future Minds Network, a social enterprise that empowers marginalised youth with the skills they need to secure employment and create their own jobs. 

“I’ve spent half a decade creating opportunities for decent work and economic growth,” Diong wrote in his application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “Through Global Citizen, I aim to strengthen Australia's connections with the Asia-Pacific region as a united and inclusive community.” 

Today, Diong’s efforts have helped over 11,000 young people find employment and advocate for the UN Global Goals in their communities.

Global Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

14. Phatsaline Vongsaly, 28, Laos

Phatsaline Vongsaly is a mental health advocate dedicated to reducing barriers to mental health services in Laos, particularly for people from marginalised backgrounds. 

As the co-founder of Gamlangchai, a community-based mental health initiative run by young people for young people in Laos, Vongsaly focuses on training young champions to promote mental health awareness and build peer-to-peer programs. 

“This is really unexpected,” Vongsaly said when she learned she was a finalist for the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “I’m really glad to hear this news and cannot wait!”

By working together, she believes that young people can provide each other the support and resources they need to thrive.

15. Tamara Gondo, 25, Indonesia

At age 16, Tamara Gondo started an NGO to provide upskilling classes to girls from rural areas in Indonesia. These classes provided the skills, resources, and community support needed to help young girls escape poverty and empower themselves through access to education and employment opportunities.

“I would love to mobilise young people, corporations, and governmental bodies toward gender equality,” Gondo said in her application to Global Citizen. “I am excited to exchange thoughts and best practices to scale our impact wider.”

16. Alanna Sethi, 20, Hong Kong

Certified yoga instructor, mental health advocate, and founder Alanna Sethi believes that increasing access to mental health resources and support can help young people around the world thrive. 

“I would love to use the opportunity at the Youth Leadership Summit to engage with diverse award winners, Global Citizen and relevant partners to exchange ideas and forge collaborations to expand our global impact,” Sethi said of the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “This is really amazing news, thank you so much!”

Her organisation HOPE provides community education programming and peer support to achieve this goal, empowering youth with the resources they need to improve their wellbeing.

17. Divyangana Sharma, 24, India

“My goal is to create a safe space for international students to discuss mental health, breaking the stigma that often silences them due to cultural norms and academic pressures,” Divyangana Sharma, a youth leader from India, wrote in her application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “The platform provided by Global Citizen will allow me to represent the South Asian voice and work toward empowering youth.”

Currently working as a nurse at Epworth Hospital in Australia, Sharma utilises her experience as an international student to promote mental health awareness and support fellow students. When she received the news that she was a finalist, Sharma said: “That is incredible news, thank you so much!”

18. Maggie Blanden, 24, Australia

Maggie Blanden is a proud Palawa woman from lutruwita/Tasmania and the founder of Naarm Law Students on Voice—an Indigenous-led, community-informed, and culturally-safe grassroots project pertaining to the Voice Referendum. She is also a passionate youth advocate for Indigenous self-determination, as well as gender equality.

In her application to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards, Blanden expressed excitement at being able to meet fellow youth leaders across the Asia-Pacific region. “Learning and growing alongside like-minded changemakers—nothing more powerful!”

Global Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

19. Noor Azizah, 28, Australia

Noor Azizah is a 28-year-old former Rohingya refugee who resettled with her family in Sydney in 2003, after escaping the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar's Rakhine state. 

“I believe that by nurturing and supporting the leadership potential of Rohingya women, we can bring about profound and lasting change. By partnering with the Youth Leaders Award platform, I aim to amplify these efforts,” said Azizah.

The experience of being forcibly pushed out of her home country at such a young age inspired Azizah to do whatever she could to empower Rohingya women globally and preserve their culture.

“My vision for the next 3-5 years revolves around empowering more Rohingya women to become leaders within their communities. Historically, leadership roles have been predominantly occupied by men, and my goal is to change this narrative,” Azizah said in her application to Global Citizen. 

Global Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

20. Dr. Belle Lim, 27, Malaysia 

With a Ph.D in cancer genetics, Dr. Belle Lim utilises her expertise in social policy and healthcare to evaluate policies and programs that address women’s issues, health inequality, homelessness, and mental health so they can have the greatest positive impact on the people they support. Dr. Lim’s own organisation, Future Forte, has also empowered more than 2,500 women and gender-diverse international students in Australia through enhanced mental health programs. 

“Oh that’s so wonderful, thank you!” Dr. Lim said when Global Citizen congratulated her on being accepted to the 2024 Youth Leaders Awards. “I’m really looking forward to it.”


Demand Equity

2024 Youth Leaders Awards: Meet 20 Young Innovators Who Are Championing the Global Goals

By Jaxx Artz