Future Leaders for equality

11 ‘Future Leaders’ are speaking at the European Commission’s Development Days in Brussels (2-4 June), in recognition that young people have crucial views and experiences to be the driving force behind development.

Among them is Nicholas Niwagaba from Uganda where he is programme manager for the Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV/AIDS (UNYPA). UNYPA is an advocacy partner of the Alliance-led Link Up programme, which believes young people have the power to help bring an end to AIDS.

Nicholas is there to contribute on his views with regards to the ‘the right to health’. He says:

“As a ‘Future Leader’ I have the opportunity to join different interesting meetings here in Brussels and represent the voice of young people, especially those in Uganda that face barriers in accessing health care and are often marginalized and discriminated.

'Future Leaders' taking a selfie with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.Nicholas and the other Future Leaders taking a selfie with UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

The most important meeting was the opportunity I got to go into discussion with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon together with the other young leaders. Realising that this was a once in a life time opportunity, I asked him about the discrimination and homophobia that African young LGBTI are facing and if he sees an opportunity to replicate the embracement and respect for diversity in sexual orientations that most of the Western countries have moved to.

He mentioned his appreciation for the legalization of same sex marriage in some countries lately, referring to Ireland, and called upon other countries to take up these good practices. He also emphasized that people should not be ashamed of who they are. But he also recommended young people all around the world to advocate towards their governments towards non-discrimination and equality and put pressure on them to keep the ambition high. “The world relies on you to hold us accountable” Ban Ki Moon said.

You have the ability, you are a future leader!

I want to call up all other young people to take all advocacy opportunities that come their way, with both hands, and play an active role as responsible citizens of your countries. You have the ability, you are a future leader!”

Nicholas will speaking at a panel debate on Thursday (4 June) 'Realising the right to health for all by 2030', alongside Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, among others. Full details here.