Diana Hero

Dare to let the young lead the way into the future


Dare to let the young lead the way into the future

On International Youth Day we highlight the importance of letting young people take part of developing the cities.

Diana Barazi, 22, is working with AFRY in Malmö, Sweden, to empower young people in the community of Sofielund, Malmö. Here she shares her insights about young people and their perspectives.

Why should young people be included in developing our cities?
Young people are a group often forgotten; they are too old to be considered kids and too young to be considered adults, which causes a lot of young people to feel misunderstood and excluded from society.

A classic saying that everyone has probably already heard of is "youth are the future", but can we as policy makers and society planners really claim that we shape the future, without providing the tools and support that let our youths take an active role in shaping this future together with us?

What is the biggest misunderstanding around young people in the cities?
That they do not care. They do, but many feel that they are on their own with their struggles and that no one cares about their needs. Many dream big, but lack the tools and support to reach them and end up giving up somewhere along the way.

What have you learnt from working with empowering young people to participate in their city’s development?
Empowering young people is a process that requires a lot of time, patience and continuity, but in the end, it is so worth it. You see them grow in engagement, responsibility and leadership. You see them take an active role in fuelling the change they want to see and be a part of creating our future cities. You see them reach out to other youths, inspiring and engaging them to also be a part of shaping the future. Most importantly, you see the change of mindset in them, where they go from thinking that they cannot change their city to pushing for and leading that change.

What is your advice to policy makers and city planners to better succeed in including youths?

  • Talk to youths instead of about them.
  • Treat young people as a heterogenous group, they are not all the same.
  • Support them to express their thoughts and ideas, rather than deciding for them. Let them be a part of the entire process from coming up with ideas, to shaping them into concrete solutions and finally implementing these.
  • Do not leave them hanging in a process, communicate changes and decisions back to them.
  • Language can be an obstacle in communication and hence may need to be adapted to the youths.
  • Dare to let go of your control and let them lead the way into the future, which they are meant to lead.



Diana Barazi sitting by the sea

Diana Barazi, is doing an MSc. in Biomedical engineering. She is also a leader in the NGO, Tillsammans i Förening (TiF), in Malmö, which aim is to contribute to increased youth involvement and engagement in different societal processes, and a member of the Global Shapers Community, aiming to tackle local challenges to achieve global change, where the community operates with the belief that young people can and should be at the center of sustainable solution-building, policy making and change.