Empowering people is a greater action to bring a change within the people. Empowerment refers to both self-empowerment and professional support by the people, which enables them to overcome all the barriers and recognize the use of the resources that individuals have. With an aim to empower teenagers and to solve the social issues by a movement Glocal International Teen Conference conducts a panel session every year to increase the teenager’s participation to act for a positive change through individual initiation and creativity.
On September 1st, 2019 GITC was held with the Empowerment panel session, where the session deployed a speaker’s stories and had an interactive discussion on “Teenager’s Role and Participation on social issues. In order to influence a teenager from around the world, GITC has marked a historical event by bringing a passionate teenager together to create a change in the world.
The Empowerment panel session was moderated by Ms. Ranju Darshana (Youth Leader of Nepal) who created an empowering environment with five speakers from different countries. The speakers were:
- Shardul Deshmukh (19 years old Undergraduate Engineer Student from India)
- Iwo Adam Hachulski (17 years old Youth Activist from Poland)
- Vaibhav Nahata (17 years old Motivational Speaker from Nepal)
- Jennie Ebihara (18 years old Youth Activist from Japan)
- Zafar Waseem (18 years old Social Activist from Pakistan)
Here is the gist of the discussion:
Moderator: I would like to start the panel session with a simple question for every panelist i.e. What does empowerment mean to you in 3 words?
Zafar: This is Zafar Waseem from Pakistan, a 19-year-old teenager, and Ambassador of Prime Minister Youth Program and Public Speaker. I consider empowerment as an ability to know yourself, ability to know who you really are because wherever I go, I got this topic because I consider my life as I was empowered at a stage of my life.
When I was 17 years old, I had a time as a part of broken family. I got dropped from my college and came to federal capital Islamabad and started working in call center where my working shift was from 8pm to 6am in the morning and used to talk with western people. Through them I have learned and then there came a time when I got 100% scholarship merit based in Islamabad. I started studying and balanced work as well. At that time, I also participated in different public speaking competition and got award as a best speaker from Pakistan and also recognized by Prime Mister himself. So, I thought about it What is empowerment? I knew myself and had a dream to present my country at International Forum. And two years later today here I am in front of you people representing my country Pakistan.
Jennie: Hi! My name is Jennie Ebihara from Tokyo and 18 years old girl. I am a founder of “Teen for Equality Japan”. It’s basically an organization, where we educate Japanese youth on “Gender Issues” based on Japan. So, in 3 words, I think empowerment would be to share the confidence. What I think is “Empowerment is to find confidence within yourself and share your feelings”. So, sometimes in my life there is a time that I feel like, wow… I am so lucky to be a girl whether that can be like outfits that I wear and feel happy to be a girl or when I input my opinion among a place where there is only guys and only girl and at that time, I am lucky to be a girl.
So, this is something that empowers me for being a girl and to feel empowered I think that you want to share, how you feel about it to someone else. I think that’s an empowerment. Sharing that feeling to someone and empowering yourself that is empowerment.
Vaibhav: Hello Everyone! I am Vaibhav Nahata from the eastern part of Nepal called Biratnagar. Two years back when I was in grade 10 and I took the water bottle and poured in my head and asked always who I am? When I was in school, I was the favorite bully victim. In my school if there is a one guy who want to release frustration up to you then, come to Vaibhav and that was Viabhav. Within two years something happened that completely transformed my life and when we talk about empowerment. Those three words that I use every single day i.e. “We are Champions”. To me empowerment is realizing that we are champions.
Iwo: My name is Iwo Adam Hachulski and originally from Poland. I am studying in UK at British Boarding School and pursuing my International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Focusing back on the empowerment, I will define it a bit differently that I would say its “Empower to fight for own’s right and freedom”.
Shardul: Hello Everyone! This is Shardul Deshmukh from India. I am 19 years old and currently pursuing computer science in 3rd year of University. According to me the 3 keywords that define Empowerment would be is Value, Motivation and getting in what you love to do. So, Value because I try to add value in someone’s else life and motivate youths.
I also work for few SDGs goals in certain parts of my country. Most of my work is about “Gender Equality” and motivate youths to work in SDGs goals and bring a change.
Moderator: From all the panelist we have some common words that has come i.e. Self-Motivation, Hard labor and Believing on yourself. Now, I would like to know from all of you that, what are the things that has triggered you to be a Social Activist, an Entrepreneur, to work for Gender Rights, to be recognized by the head of the country and to be motivating 100 and thousands of people?
Shardul: Something that triggered me is two young girls sitting outside my university at 4 pm every day. One day I asked them the reason on behind sitting every day and they said that – we like to see the students that are studying and doing whatever they like.The girls were the underprivileged and didn’t got the opportunity to go the university.So, I thought Why not create a wing under a student’s body where we can help all the underprivileged teenagers and give them a class like music, literature anything whatever they like.So, I approached to my university and now we have “Kalakriti” where we give classes to 13 underprivileged kid on their interested courses.
Moderator: Shardul, why do you feel like working for the underprivileged? Why does it matter to you to work for them?
Shardul: I felt that even they should also get a chance to show their potential but then they don’t have a resource to show their talent stuff.
Zafar: As I am the first Speaker from Pakistan in GITC. Earlier my cousin sister got selected but due to family system, she was not allowed to be over here. At that time, she said me to apply in GITC and come over here. The kind of condition that we have in Northern Pakistan that girls are not let to go for education.
So, I thought that I will work for it and started from my own. Today my sister is studying along with 10 girls. I started off campus at my own home and let them know that what they really are and what can they do? I believe that we have to stand in the corridors of truth and those time of wonders you can know who you are? Who am I? and What is my Purpose?
Vaibhav: Two years back, I was going to Calcutta for seven days camp with bunch of 7 – 10 peoples and when I returned back from camp, I knew that I have got energy that I need. So, I made some strict goals within myself. And more about transformation realization is the key to bring around complete break through.
Iwo: I would like to share the short story because I believe learning by experience. So, real life examples are always best one. I would say it’s something what I am doing for new turn because I was given different scholarship in British High School and it opened lots of ways and opportunities which we commonly called networking. The most important event that we did together in this network was organizing “Block Chain Conference”. It’s a technology which might drive a world in the future, slowly which will be a new internet. So, we organized an event with more than 600 participants at national stadium and we attracted so many partners like Microsoft, IBM, lots of embassies from all over the world and gave so much of power that we knew that we cannot stop it and just go further.
And what I did next was founding a block, which was connected fully to the conference and aims to educate people about technology. So, from my perspective such thing makes you fly honestly and put yourself up and just grow.
Moderator: Jennie ! You are an activist; I would like to know why you want to be an activist and since you are an activist, what are the key problems that you have faced?
Jennie: Basically, in my school, we have physical education class and we do gymnastics. In the process of gymnastics, the teacher used to call only boys to carry the heavy stuff and girls were said to take a rest because we are a girl. This is small thing but japan is the most developed country in the world. We have a lot of economic power and more other things but still as a student I still have to deal with the gender discrimination on daily basis. That’s ridiculous right? So, it was something small but I questioned in my community and wanted to let speak about in justice.
I think even questioning the smallest part, we can start developing a new solution and that’s how we all start being an activist for a better cause. One thing I want to say that is yes, gender equality does emphasize girls, I admit that because their aestivation in alleviation makes us to reach man. Because that’s equality and how we are going to adjust these skills that’s one approach. But one thing we all have to remember is that man is also the part of the conversation as well and adding more women in the conference table by inviting girls to speak about the gender equality.
Moderator: Financial issues are the one which have stopped more teenagers to step forward! So, what were the solution for it? How do you actually get started your journey tackling with those financial issues?
Vaibhav: When we talk about getting started up! It’s basically simple that when you are starting you have to start with very small and that’s how you start doing. In my personal experience, I belong from Madhvari family and we are supposed to help in family business. But I was not the one who didn’t go office and my mum used to complain about it as other siblings were making money. But slowly they understand me and realized my initiation. I believe that the first step is to what brings all the difference and transformation that has to brought about it.
Zafar: Yes, you face the obstacles but it’s a courage that you find in yourself. People will forget what will you say, what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel! The people who are pointing today trust me they will stand with you and follow you.
Shardul: When I was travelling to Nepal for this conference, even my friends were interested to apply and they had a lot of questions regarding the selection. My answer is just take the first step towards doing something, I think it covers a 50% of it. Once you started you will keep doing it. Also, the financial things, you need to value yourself first. Even it’s your small investment for your project you need to value yourself and invest on it and go for searching for the investment or people that could help you on your initiation.
Jennie: I think to start social activism, the most important thing is to start conversations. What I meant by this is the most efficient way is to change someone is through talking to them and to connect with them. And Believe on you that you have to teach people from the depth of the heart. In my experience with my teacher that discriminating girls and generalizing girls are weaker than boys. So, I spoked my teacher that was wrong to assume him about all girls. I think that’s all something you can do, where you don’t need money for that nor neither resources. You just need your voice and ultimately your voice is going to change the people’s perspectives and that’s going to change about the girls what they feel about themselves and about their gender. So, make conversations on taboos topics and connect to people one to one.
Iwo: When you look from bigger perspectives you might see motivation is very important but it lasts only for very short time. So, the motivation needs to transform into habits. If you transform it then everything will go right and you just need to develop and focus on improving yourself.
Coming back to financial issues it’s most important is that doing what we love to do. Because you live with passion, you can constantly improve yourself and work. Share your stories and motivate others that would make a better human being. I think it’s only the solution for the current situation nowadays.
Moderator: Any panelist wants to share about the time that you have felt empty and couldn’t go ahead?
Zafar: Talking about that particular time, yes there was a moment when my mother left us. I was totally like out of touch. Slowly and gradually things got better and I started to learn how to let go of past. How to release those things that doesn’t make sense because replaying those scenes it’s just to cloud your judgement. Yes, there comes a time when sometimes you feel empty but what I do is I just write my feelings in Diary and recall it for my decision and my growth.
Jennie: In my organization we hold workshops for education but sometimes we expect 50 students to come but only 8 peoples come. We felt bad because we put so much effort in it. I think we people who are working to bring a change sometimes feel low on yourself. Because what you do doesn’t meet the expectation or it doesn’t go as plan. So, what I do is on that situation is admitting your mistakes. What I mean that is something that we do if it doesn’t go success there might be something wrong and was not responding that what people need it. Admitting to those mistakes and figuring out what we can do, I think learning from these mistakes is crucial into bouncing back and finding the motivation to restart what you doing. Yes, every one fails sometime, so find positivity with that and use that as a learning experience to tackle the holes that you are missing.
Vaibhav: In this situation what I do is write in my diary. I have two blogs one is success blog and another is super success blog where I write my story over there. So, my concept is just simple that “Falling down is not the end”.
Iwo: For me it’s similar as other speakers, so many situations has made me discouraged fully on what I was doing. I would like to share my story when I came to British School like for first few weeks. I was completely alone over there where everything was new for me. So, both academically and non- academically it was really tough but gradually it got better. Finally, after a year I was perfect and boosted me up. It’s obvious that tough time will again come in next year but you have to make one step up back to make two steps forward. And that’s exactly how I see it and makes me hope for the future that it won’t be worst. Because believe in yourself there’s always a solution or way to up to the heaven.
Shardul: Back at my 10th grade, there used to be an election for captain in our school. And I was completely introvert person and had no friend literally. So, everyone in class were like complaining me and not perfect to be a captain. That completely made me feel low at that time. So, I questioned myself and pulled off Why I cannot do this and motivated myself to value my decision and successfully got an opportunity to be a captain. So, If I feel demotivate then what I do just is to encourage own self.
Moderator: When it comes to teens and youths specially many of us has excluded from going to highly official circles, they think that we do not understand because of small age to be among them. So, in your country what are the problems related to the youths and how as a person are you being a part of the solution to that problem?
Zafar: Coming towards the solution, what I believe is on inclusiveness because if we just take them and involve with you. That is how they will learn and by inclusiveness, you can make a difference because taking them along and conducting different activities and getting them together with involving is the solution what I have found.
Jennie: I think the big issue that Japan has is- We are a homogeneous country, so the majority of the population are Japanese people, we don’t have diverse religions. I think just one way that people live is stereotypical (Like go to high school, graduate, go to university and make money). Whenever someone goes abroad to study or start own company and just go out of direction then you become a minority in Japan. That’s one reason that what I feel that why japan has been like economically declining over the past few years because everyone did the same thing in their own companies. But now, since the whole world is globalizing and entrepreneurship has become a big thing. Japan isn’t catching up to that level of passion, going and doing out your own thing.
So, how I am contributing on that is by speaking about gender equality in Japan is already me being as a minority within the rest of Japanese majority. Also, out education and listening to people’s stories is really important which makes us encourage to step out.
Vaibhav: I am sorry to say that there are no problems but there is something called challenges and this is simple perspectives changes that what I think can bring a lot of differences. So, when it comes to challenges the biggest challenge that we have is love to kick. What if we kick with the responsibility and able to bring the changes? The perspectives that there is no problem and there are only challenges that are meant to be solved.
Iwo: I would like to kick off with the issues that currently we are fighting with it i.e. climate change. An issue which is occurring everywhere and everyone affected by it. We have youth climate change in Poland, this organization which took like around 50,000 participants which appeared to be biggest movement focused on climate change. That makes people believe actually what they are fighting on it! To make life changes which cannot be introduce by only yourself, at first you need to make people aware about them.
And that’s the biggest problem that we are facing now but also there is lots of different issues which we are considering in Poland. It’s really good to see that there is a group of people who really wants to bring changes and fight for something for a cause.
Shardul: I have only one line for this, actually we have a lot of challenges in every country. I think the solution would be changing yourself at the ground level first and then gradually all the challenges will turn into positive things.
Vaibhav: It begins with a simple person and it’s true that we alone cannot change the world. But our work as inspiration can definitely change the world.
Moderator: For this panel, I would like to request all the panelists to take a pledge in near future that you would reject the manliest if you are called in any of them. (Basically, manliest is the panel with all men).Now, the floor is open for the questions. I would like to request you to all the participants to raise their questions.
Participants: What message do you want to give teenagers who are wasting their more time in social media?
Zafar: If you have a passion to do something with all the plans then there won’t be a time to waste it.
Shardul: What you do that matter in the social media and defines waste of time or not! So, social media if you use it in very productive way then, I think this is the best platform that we have all got right now. You can get all the opportunities and ways to improve yourself.
Vaibhav: Once you set the bigger goal then you will not get a time to use social media. So, you have to find more important goal for you than social media.
Iwo: From my perspectives social media is just choosing about priority of your life. So, you need to wakeup with determination and go to bed with satisfaction which perfectly defines what is important for you. Think of what can you do to develop yourself and just make a progress in your life.
Jennie: I think prioritizing is most important for youths. Prioritizing what you want to do in your life is a key. I don’t think investing 24 hours for studying and working on projects is good. It’s ok to use the social media and doing fun. Understanding that we need to bounce both fun time and working time and do what you love to do.
Participants: World is full of opinion, and how can we deal with the both constructive criticism and worst criticism?
Vaibhav: Thinking positivity is not always the solution. So, solution would be thinking constructive rather than thinking positivity. And taking advise and suggestion from the mentors will help you too decide the take a good decision as well. The most important thing is to choose decision by yourself.
Participants: What are your top 3 values and how are you living with your values every day?
Zafar: For me decision making is the most important and it comes within yourself where you can look about it and decide.
Participants: I have two questions, what are the mistakes that you guys have committed to the journey till now and Which would like to correct it if you got an opportunity to time travel it?
Second, Do you guys have any initiative through which you could involve underprivileged people who are laborious and talented but who are not skillful?
Zafar: Yes, everyone dreams about it and correct those mistakes. It comes with the time that you do mistakes and then you learn from it.
Vaibhav: When you talk about mistakes and talk about time travel, I don’t want to go back and correct it. Because looking back to the mistakes that I have done has headed me to become a person who I am now. Actually, mistake make changes by appreciating it.
Jennie: Take the time to analyze your mistakes. Mistakes don’t happen often as much as we think. So, use of those mistakes and realize it. It is important to keep positivity and also important to acknowledge at the same time. Sometimes if we are in the wrong direction then we can fix it by ourselves.
Iwo: About the unprivileged students. It’s just a question of approach. Me personally I would be a favor of systematic solutions. So that government proposes a something like applying in over a country. The problem is just different in all over the world. Trying from yourself and making better place to live is the perfect that we can do.
Remarks by Iwo: You all have heard about our stories and experiences but the thing is that like summary of all those things. I would like to say, you have to be anybody to be somebody. Just stay yourself! Thank You.