One World Together: Empowering Youth and Fostering Change

In June 2023, we, the Youth Board along with our founders, and our four partner organisations were proud to celebrate the launch of One World Together (OWT)!

We are an organisation committed to transforming the current funding system towards a more humane, equitable and impactful system where the money directly reaches the organisations closest to its communities. Young people are at the heart of the movement, using their powerful voices to pioneer change and fight for a trust-based and equitable global community.

But how did it all start?

While we started our academic journey at the University of Manchester, we were all eager to learn about global development and the funding system supporting it. However, we quickly found ourselves frustrated with the fraught inequalities and gaps that are deeply entrenched in development systems worldwide. Concepts, projects, and programmes – all seemed to highlight what does NOT work and how they increase existing disparities. While attending an early morning lecture centred around these themes, Niki Banks came in as a guest speaker and passionately presented to us the idea of One World Together.

At that point, it was still a vision of Niki and Chibwe based on their experience and fuelled by their frustration at these unequal systems. At the heart – the power of grassroots movements and their ability to enact positive and sustainable change within communities. The idea is to create a system of trust-based unrestricted funding that actually reaches these movements and organisations closest to the communities not only capturing our attention but kindling a flame of HOPE within us.

When the opportunity to become part of this movement and join OWT’s Youth Board came up it seemed like a natural step towards contributing to transformative change on a global scale.

But who are we? Who is the Youth Board?

We are eight individuals of all ages and academic stages, incorporating voices around the globe – from Haiti, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. The common thread uniting us is a shared aspiration for a better world, driven by the urgent need for change. The Youth Board holds a fundamental role in driving the organisation’s mission forward, with OWT’s vision co-created with the energy and insight of the younger generation. Since our formation we’ve been involved in shaping OWT’s vision, promoting youth engagement, and coordinating community activities. We’ve established the first OWT Student Union at the University of Manchester which is a key part of the organisation’s future development and impact.

Because who better to incorporate into shaping the future than young people themselves?

Youth organising is now more present than ever – Fridays for Future, Muungano wa wanavijiji Youth Federation, Shift the Power…

Youth leadership is at the forefront of these movements. Realising their agency and power and driving social change. It should, however, not be mistaken for youth social action or youth voices. Youth-led change is more than that – it is rooted in community organising principles and structures, it empowers young people to self-organise to challenge institutions and structures, driving long-term change for their community – be this incremental, structural, or transformational change. This is where One World Together comes in – with our Youth Board and our newly established Student Society – we empower young people. They are at the centre of shaping OWT’s movement and creating a foundation for engagement and collaboration to transform society towards actively supporting local organisations.

Youth organising is the process of engaging young people in building power for systemic change. Grounded in racial, gender, and economic justice – the lived experiences and proximity to the issues are key. Youth organising includes the opening of space for those affected by injustice to come together as a community to critically analyse power relations and allocate responsibility. Youth organising has a dual focus – the development of individual young people and the development of young people as a group within the community. Both visions require an asset-based approach and the building of skills.

But does that mean young people are solely responsible for creating change? – Not at all.

Adults play a role in youth organising by acting as co-facilitators, administrators, or allies. This approach has a ‘triple bottom line benefit’, positively impacting the community involved, individual leadership development of young activists as well as the issues they are working to change.

OWT thus, envisions building bridges for empowerment by partnering for impact. Our partner organisations are dedicated to creating opportunities for young people and share our values and aspirations. Raising Futures Kenya and Play it Forward invest in education and health services for young people in Kenya and Zambia and encourage their autonomy within communities. Our network also includes Community Savers and Muungano wa Wanavijiji’s Youth Federation, who mobilise local communities in the UK and Kenya to fight poverty and inequality. As we look ahead, the OWT’s future is filled with unlimited hope. Motivated by a common set of principles that include trust, solidarity, and equity, young people supported by experienced leaders are powerful drivers for creating positive change. By fostering an inclusive environment, OWT is an inspiring example of how youth-led initiatives may have a transformative impact in communities and on a global scale.

Our decision to join OWTs’ Youth Board was not just an opportunity for us; it’s our promise to form a better world—one that reflects our visions, hopes, and unity of an engaged and diverse global community.

Written by Amira Hassana Mohammed and Nele Engbrecht, Youth Board Members