UNICEF appoints first-ever Youth Advocate in Pakistan

A 16-year-old activist, author, and motivational speaker Taqwa Ahmad has been appointed as UNICEF’s first-ever Youth Advocate in Pakistan. Taqwa is an advocate for peace, inclusivity, disability rights, and education.

The groundbreaking announcement, made on World Children’s Day, aims to inspire children to raise their voices and become advocates for child rights.

“I am humbled and excited to become a UNICEF Youth Advocate. My goal is to amplify the voices of young people, champion their rights and empower others. I envisage a future where every child in Pakistan can access high-quality education and healthcare, so they can flourish in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment,” says Taqwa Ahmad, who hails from Gujranwala, Punjab.

In her new role as UNICEF Youth Advocate, Taqwa will leverage her platform to bring attention to child rights and issues affecting youth.

Taqwa and five other child representatives recently met with the President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi to discuss key concerns as part of a UNICEF World Children’s Day initiative. The delegation, representing children from diverse age groups and backgrounds across all provinces and regions of Pakistan, emphasized climate change, inclusive education, and gender equality as urgent issues requiring action from leaders and decision-makers to safeguard their futures, UNICEF Pakistan said.

Children in Pakistan confront various challenges, standing on the frontlines of climate change and facing threats from extreme weather events. With over 22 million children out of school, they are deprived of crucial opportunities to learn, earn, and grow. High rates of malnutrition and poverty further jeopardize their survival and well-being, with children with disabilities being among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, commended Taqwa for her inspiring words and actions, highlighting her incredible personal story of overcoming challenges due to a spinal condition to become a karate champion despite needing a wheelchair.

“Taqwa inspires us not only with her powerful words, but through her actions and her incredible personal story … providing a beacon of hope to children, especially girls everywhere. We are honored for her to become our first-ever Youth Advocate in Pakistan,” Fadil, UNICEF said.

UNICEF believes that collaborating with young people, activists, and advocates is critical to support the next generation of changemakers, build a more inclusive and equitable Pakistan where the rights of all children are protected and recognized to secure a better future for all.

Salma Khan
Salma writes on topics ranging from education to technology to business. She can be reached at Twitter and Facebook.

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