I have been scolded by older people for the shrewd way that some millennials discuss contentious issues such as religion and politics over dinner. As a political and social campaigner, I believe our generation has a responsibility to be bold, to be different and to talk about the issues that divide and disturb our communities.
Over 1,500 delegates from 197 were gathered at the Grand Palace in Bangkok last week for the Opening Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2015. Delegates proudly took the stage waving their national flags, with a particularly touching moment when the Delegates from The People's Republic of Korean and South Korean walked on stage together. This was a moment of pride and passion for the young leaders gathered to debate and discuss the most pressing issues of our time, ranging from women's empowerment to climate change to peace and security.
After inspiring speeches from Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammed Yunnus, Sir Bob Geldof sauntered onto the stage with his usual demeanour and proceeded to passionately reprimand my generation, telling us that our hands are 'stained with blood' and that the glowing endorsements that we are the 'most powerful generation ever' and overplayed, undeserved and ultimately a waste of time. I vehemently disagree.
Representing the UK for the third time, I was so proud to see the work that Ambassadors have contributed to from all sides of the globe. From Esther Marshall in the UK and Amanda Dufresne in the US, championing women's empowerment initiatives supported by Unilever and Google after proudly overcoming abuses themselves, to Lina Khalifeh training over 10,000 women in self-defence in Jordan. These initiatives were born and nurtured through online communities. Another example is Amir Ashour, who started IraQueer where LGBT community members from Iraq can seek refuge and support online. With IS continuing to target and persecute those who identify as gay and recent reports of a 15-year-old executed for charges of sodomy, his commitment to using technology to create Iraq's first supportive network for gay people is truly needed and extremely inspiring.
We are empowered with the devices at our fingertips. Rather than 'tweeting bull' as Sir Bob accused us of, I believe that increasing numbers of young people are using technology to evoke change and implore our communities to handle things differently. Our generation is inspired to use technology to evoke the lasting change in our communities.
I was selected to speak at the 2013 Summit in Johannesburg as UK Delegate Speaker on Human Rights. I spoke about my work with the Red Light Campaign, a London-based charity working to support survivors of slavery and working to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of slavery in the modern world. Two years on, Co-Founder of One Young World David Jones recently told me he shudders every time he hears my speech as I voiced my concern for the vulnerability for Syrian refugees at the hands of human trafficking.
With unprecedented numbers of refugees increasingly at risk, I took great solace in the visibility of the issue at the Bangkok Summit. The Red Light Campaign continues to help female survivors of trafficking in London and our social media network against slavery, the first of its kind, has spread the message over 880,616km around the world. Our first Ambassadors were attendees of the One Young World Summit, who continue to help our movement from four different continents.
As part of the podcast team, we interviewed a number of celebrated people including Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammed Yunnus, NASA Astronaut Ron Garan, Producer of Avatar Jon Landau and CEO Telefonica Ronan Dunne. However most importantly of all, we coordinated a session with delegates from Paris to talk about how the city's young people are dealing with the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks. I was floored by their optimism, staunch commitment to their way of life and their assertion that they will never bow down to their terrorists' pressure. We also conducted a session with delegates from Turkey, Kurdistan and Syria and provided a platform for these young people to debate issues and demonstrate friendship across increasingly strained borders. The podcasts are available on Soundcloud and iTunes.
I left the One Young World Summit in Bangkok with a renewed sense of optimism and pride in my generation. On the final day we stood hand in hand for a moment of silence for those across the world who have suffered at the hands of terrorists and the symbolism of that moment was not lost on me. If 197 young leaders under the age of 30 can come together for a week to openly debate some of the most contentious issues from religion, politics, terrorism and climate change, I am hopeful for the future of this generation.