Unfortunately, this is a question which can be answered in more than one way. Interestingly, there is almost universal agreement that a common feature in leadership preparation is mentorship.
Even more critical is the fact that when youth get the right mentorship today, they prepare a vibrant society for children who will not have to keep up with the challenges of today. Challenges including but not limited to poverty, gender based violence, violent extremism, poor education, and underdevelopment. Such challenges become even more grave when they directly affect children who unquestionably are part of the vulnerable in the society.
Mentoring or a mentor may simply be defined as someone who sees more talent and ability within a person, to provide guidance, pragmatic advice, and continued support that will help the individual in their learning and development process. Mentorship may not be able to change how fast personal development occurs or force a child or youth to make certain decisions. Nonetheless mentors can share their worldviews, experiences, knowledge, support and advice, as well as provide a positive influence. By introducing children and youth to new experiences and sharing positive values, mentors can help young people avoid negative behaviors and achieve success.
There is however, further need to mentor the children and youth. Why? Because over 40% of the population of the world comprises of children and youth. According to a recent survey by the Population Reference Bureau, the population of the youth – people aged between 15 and 24 – stands at about 1.2 billion. Therefore, for us to have a better world we desire, one with better leaders, one in which we have zero poverty, one in which we have unconditional peace and love; then we have no option but to mentor the youth and children towards that direction.
Mentoring the youth presents not only a window for better leaders but by extension, puts the youth at a better place to implement and achieve the outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals represent a worldwide commitment to ending poverty, gender based violence, peace, quality education and decent work and econo
mic growth. Progress on many of the goals could be achieved by not only providing the youth with resources and a conducive environment but also showing and helping them unleash their potential towards achievement of these goals – mentorship.
For instance, UN Women highlights the story of Emanuella Kokoi 27 from Uganda. Through mentorship, she got to understand issues of gender equality and the equal roles men and women have to play towards achieving peace and development. She is now a gender equality activist. Kokoi now mentors other youth like her into leadership.
Many more youth are like Emanuella. They have the potential to become leaders, implementers and activists, if onlythey are given the platform and mentored the right way.