10 DECEMBER 2019



The #YAS19 was held on 10 December 2019, Human Rights Day, in the highly symbolic Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Organized by the United Nations Office at Geneva, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) and dev.tv, the first Young Activists Summit brought together six young female activists whose inspiring backgrounds and achievements should be shared. A youth session an award ceremony and a comprehensive media plan highlighted the role of women and girls as key drivers of progress.

A youth session an award ceremony and a comprehensive media plan highlighted the role of women and girls as key drivers of progress.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad was the guest of honour of the first YOUNG ACTIVISTS SUMMIT (#YAS19), whose theme in 2019 was WOMEN AND GIRLS DRIVING PROGRESS.

Activists #YAS19

Nadia Murad

Nadia's Initiative

Prix Nobel de la paix 2018

Nadia Murad was among thousands of Yazidi women who were abducted, raped, and enslaved by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). She was 21 at the time. During her captivity, Nadia Murad was detained and sold as a sex slave at various EI sites before finally escaping.

Nadia Murad has since led an intense campaign to draw the attention of governments to the plight of the Yazidi, including women in sexual slavery.

Nadia Murad is the founder and president of Nadia’s Initiative, which is dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and defending the rights of victims of violence.

Memory Blanda

Foundation 4 girls leadership

Memory Banda is a Malawian child rights activist who has drawn the international community’s attention to her work against early and forced marriages. Her advocacy has helped change the attitudes of traditional leaders and even the law of her country: her campaign has helped raise the minimum legal age for marriage from 15 to 18 years.

Through her tireless work in defending girls’ rights, Memory Banda plays a key role in solving problems that affect the well-being of girls in Malawi. In 2018, Memory Banda founded the “Foundation 4 Girls Leadership”. F4GL provides training to girls and promotes their access to education. The foundation also works to strengthen girls’ rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services, as well as to end early marriage.

Learn more about the 4 Girls Leadership Foundation

Amy & Ella Meek

Kids Against Plastic

Amy and Ella Meek are the founders of the campaign and the association “Kids Against Plastic”, a social action project for young people that addresses one of the world’s biggest environmental problems – plastic pollution. The two sisters Amy and Ella Meek work with young people, schools and companies. Ella, 14, has her own show on Sky Kids.

Amy and Ella Meek are currently focusing on their “Plastic Clever” program, a positive reward program that encourages a more judicious use of single-use plastics. To date, more than 50 cafés- restaurants, companies and public entities have joined this program, as well as more than 470 schools. To learn more about Kids Against Plastic.

Hamangaí Pataxó


Hamangaí Pataxó is an activist for the rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of nature. Hamangaí Pataxó grew up in the state of Bahia and faces the struggle of its people – the Pataxós Hã-hã-hae – for their land. Its region is valued for its major development projects.

Hamangaí Pataxó went to COP24 in Poland in 2018, she was part of the Engajamundo delegation. In 2019 she participated in the Villagio per la Terra in Rome, where she spoke about the Amazon and the importance of protecting the people who live there. This event was attended by young people and a delegation from the European Union.

Find out more about the NGO Engajamundo

Rebecca Kabuo


Rebecca Kabuo is a Congolese activist, part of LUCHA (Fight for change), a non-violent and non-partisan movement founded by young people. LUCHA is campaigning for respect for democracy and the Constitution in the DRC.

When she was detained for 6 months, Rebecca Kabuo was described on social networks as the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world. She received the International Women of Courage Award in 2017 and continues to actively advocate for respect for democracy and the Constitution.

Learn more about LUCHA


More than 8.2 million people have viewed a publication linked to #YAS19 on social media.

The Youth Session and the Awards Ceremony, streamed live on Facebook in French and in English, attracted 19.350 people.

Videos linked to #YAS19 attracted more than 300.000 views on Facebook.

The summit was widely covered by #YAS19 co-organiser RTS, which broadcast a report and a live interview with Rebecca Kabuo in its prime time evening news show at 7.30 pm Short videos were produced by the Nouvo team. The digital channel Tataki published a web-documentary and a clip of the powerful speech by Hamangaí Pataxó, which have attracted to this day 210.000 views on Facebook.

#YAS19 received international media coverage, including on Euronews, BBC World Service, TV5Monde, FranceTV, l’ATS, Swissinfo, SRF, 20 minutes, MBC, 24 Heures, Le Matin, la Tribune de Genève, le Journal du Jura, A Voz da Cidade, Nyasa Times, etc.

#YAS19 and issues raised at the summit were shared on the digital platforms of organisations like UN News, Amnesty International, UN Women, UN Human rights, Greenpeace, the European Union, the Graduate Institute, Gender Champions, Plan International and the WWF, to name but a few.

Main achievements

750 young people from the Geneva region and surroundings took part in the youth session for 15 to 25-year olds.

The awards ceremony drew 600 people.

Positive impacts for the activists themselves and the causes they defend included:

  • Formal congratulations addressed by the government of Malawi to Memory Banda, reinforcing the legitimacy of her stand against child marriage.
  • Extra funding for some of the NGOs present, in addition to the donations mobilized by #YAS19 organizers.
  • Hamangaí Pataxó, Memory Banda and Rebecca Kabuo were invited to take part in global awareness events and campaigns.
  • The birth of a ‘Kids Against Plastic Brazil’ initiative.
  • Hamangaí Pataxó is now featured in Brazilian schoolbooks

Contributions #YAS19

In order to have a lasting impact and go beyond advocacy, significant efforts were made to raise funds for the causes endorsed by our guest speakers. Crucially, funding was raised to back these programmes on the ground: Sisley Paris generously committed to collectively support all of the activists invited. Other donors chose to back activists whose ideals were in line with theirs.


United Nations Office at Geneva

RTS, Radio Télévision Suisse

dev.tv, non-profit NGO of media professionals


Mécénat Sisley

Fondation Hélène et Victor Barbour

Oak Foundation

Fondation Tellus Viva


Swiss Confederation

OHCHR, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Republic and State of Geneva

City of Geneva

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Permanent Mission of Canada

European Union

UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund

Fight for Humanity

Tataki RTS


MCI group

InterContinental Genève


Act on your Future

UN Women


Cabinet Privé de Conseils


Frontline Defenders

Yan Luong digital communication

Abena Lauber fundraising & capacity building

William Boley risk management professional