An icon of youth empowerment

7 November 2018
AJ is a role model for the young people who inspired her dedication to documentary film-making and her leadership to educate the youth.

YANGON, Myanmar - “That was the first time for me experiencing such international summit. I was really excited about what kind of experiences and challenges I would encounter at the summit.” When Aye Nilar Kyaw, or AJ for short, arrived in Sydney, she met many inspiring young people from different parts of the world and learned about their values, cultures and ideas on world issues. “This wonderful experience blew me away more than I could ever imagine “, AJ said.

With the support from UNFPA, she went to Sydney, Australia to participate in the International Youth Media Summit in August 2018. There she was inspired by what she experienced with her international peers from more than 25 countries by learning global issues, and exploring solutions for them through media.

UNFPA promotes youth leadership and participation to empower young people and enables them to become effective drivers of change, and advocates for youth issues in international and regional forums.

“They never hesitate to follow their inspiration”

At the summit, each group has to pick up one urgent global issue, such as women’s rights and youth empowerment. AJ and her team decided to work on “youth empowerment”, taking the opportunity to see the issues more broadly though a global lens, and to brainstorm on how to bring the issues into the media spotlight.

“I have learnt not only film-making about global issues but also values and leadership of my peers. Most of them are younger than me but they know what the social issues are, they know what they want, and they never hesitate to follow their inspiration regardless of their age.” This is where AJ wants to make a difference in Myanmar to build capacity and leadership among her fellow young people by using her set of skills in media. And this is where she keeps on track to capacitate young people and to start them looking into the issues in Myanmar and jumping into the role of leadership until their voices are heard.

25 young people from different parts of the country participated in the media summit organized by AJ.


The road ahead is tough, but keep walking

In October 2018, after coming back from Sydney, with the support from local and international partners, AJ successfully organized a Yangon Media Summit with 25 young participants coming from different states and regions. She trained them on how to create short documentary films to address pressing issues. The impact does not stop at AJ. It keeps going with the participants who attended the summit. Her target is to organize media summits for young people living in the remote areas, those most vulnerable and most in need. She would like to help them explore the issues around them and encourage them to stand up on their own feet and raise their issues to policy makers, using media as a platform.

AJ stressed: “Whatever they do, I want my fellow young people in Myanmar to focus on the benefits for the community rather than popularity. This is definitely the power of the youth.”

For AJ, this Yangon Media Summit is just the beginning and she is committing herself to further media summits for greater impact on youth in the remote areas. The road ahead is tough but she keeps walking pace by pace to make a change.