Last week marked the start of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. As heads of state, governments and global leaders gather in New York City, the post-2015 development agenda is top the official agenda this year.

We have been off to a busy and fully engaged start. Here are some highlights of the engagement of the UN Envoy on Youth. From gender equality, to climate, to healthcare, entrepreneurship and beyond!

The weekend kicked off with the HeForShe event on Saturday September 20th, organized by UN Women with UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson for the launch of the campaign. The event was highly attended by United Nations Officials including the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon who joked that he wished Emma

[Actress from Harry Potter] would use her magic wand from to help end inequality. Emma Watson’s powerful message asked people to “stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are—we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom [Read:Emma’s full speech].

The Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, standing on stage and addressing the audience at He for She

The Youth Envoy, Ahmad Alhendawi, speaking at He for She

The UN Envoy on Youth’s speech referenced pop culture, saying that “Young people everywhere identify with characters of famous movies. We all strived to be Super Man. Every young boy envisioned his bat mobile.”

Alhendawi drew analogies between the fiction of film and reality of our current times—“Like science fiction and fantasy, sometimes I think that the fight for equality is a creative vision, where we are all characters. Instead of fighting monsters and aliens, we attack discrimination, inequality, racism and sexism. Our epic film stars UN Secretary-General, UN Women, Emma Watson and Kiefer Sutherland!” [Watch the Youth Envoy’s full speech]

Kiefer Sutherland and Ahmad Alhendawi pose for a #HeForShe selfie

Kiefer Sutherland and Ahmad Alhendawi pose for a #HeForShe selfie

In the green room, Alhendawi and Kiefer Sutherland showed their support with a #HeForShe selfie. Join the movement by registering at

On Sunday, Alhendawi joined over 300,000 people for the People’s Climate March, to demand action from world leaders gathered in New York at the General Assembly. The People’s Climate March was the largest march for climate change in history!

Ahmad Alhendawi stands with a sign at the 2014 Climate Summit

2014 Climate March

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and newly appointed UN Goodwill Ambassador Leonardo DiCaprio walked with the crowds ensuring the commitment to amplify the voices of those marching, into the walls of the United Nations.

Many notable and prominent actors and activists joined the march which featured many creative and thought provoking signs. Below is the UN Envoy on youth with his sign: “STOP MAN MADE CLIMATE CHANGE! We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Bright and early on Sunday morning, UN Youth Envoy was part of a Master Class at the Social Good Summit. Each year, the Social Good Summit brings together innovators and innovations that are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. What an inspiring way to start a Sunday morning!

A shot of the 2014 General Assembly

2014 General Assembly

The excitement of the weekend propelled into one of the most important weeks for the General Assembly. This week marks the beginning of the UN high-level meeting that bring heads of state from around the world to engage in policy dialogues. The General Assembly (GA) is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. This week, decisions will be made on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new members and budgetary matters.

Breakfast Event at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations

Breakfast Event at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations

Our Monday morning kicked off with the UN Youth Envoy serving as moderator for a breakfast Side Event at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.

The discussions focused around the importance of education in empowering young people to make healthier choices in Africa. Speakers included Gerd Mueller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Germany, H.E. Salma Kikwete, First Lady of Tanzania, Sheila Tlou, former Minister of health of Botswana, H.E. Gertrude Mutharika, First Lady Malawi and Caroline Phiri, Director of Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health Zambia. The event featured many commitments to investing in youth.

“Today’s young people are dynamic and refuse to be silent on issues that impact their lives” said H.E. Gertrude Mutharika, First Lady of Malawi.

The First Lady of Malawi speaks at the breakfast side event

The First Lady of Malawi

A group photo at the breakfast Side Event

A group photo at the breakfast Side Event

Alhendawi stressed—“Youth are not asking for charity, they want investments.”

As global leaders gather to discuss the post 2015 development agenda, ensuring that youth voices are not only heard, but included continues to be the priority of some. Later that morning, the UN Envoy on Youth served as the chairperson for the event The Power of Youth: Holding the World to Account for the Post-2015 Framework, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN, Restless Development and Plan International.

The event served as a launch of two new reports produced by the co-hosts, Young people’s engagement in strengthening accountability for the post-2015 agenda and “Partners for change: young people and governance in a post-2015 world.” The reports stressed the role of youth in implementing the post-2015 processes, the importance of meaningful participatory governance for youth in the post-2015, and strong accountability processes to ensure youth voices are heard.

The Power of Youth

The Power of Youth

Panellists included the Director of the UN Millennium Campaign Ms. Corrine Woods, Government of Peru representative, Director of the Democratic Governance Group, UNDP Mr. Patrick Keuleers, and two Governance and Accountability Youth Advocates, Ms. Lombe Tembo, and Mr. Cheick Traore.

The conversations focused not only on post-2015 goals, but also emphasized the importance of installing in youth a global perspective on issues. As Alhendawi concluded, “This is at the heart of being a global citizen.”[Read full release here]

Later in the afternoon, the UN Youth Envoy participated in an official side event of the General Assembly, the Women Leaders Forum 2014. The forum was dedicated to discussing connecting women’s health and girl’s education for scalable and sustainable development. The focus of the conversation was on youth education, health and entrepreneurship.

The UN Envoy on Youth opened a session with a keynote address focusing on using the power of youth to create transformational impact. He spoke about connecting the next generation to build a healthy and educated workforce.

The Women Leaders Forum

The Women Leaders Forum

Other panellists included Founder of the WIE Network and the DNA Summit Ms. June Sarpong, Executive Director of R3ADY Asia-Pacific Ms. Jainey Bavishi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Celmatix Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim, Founding Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Ms. Hadeel Ibrahim, Founding President of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning Ms. Shulasmith Koenig, and Founder and President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa H.E. Madame Toyin Ojora Saraki.

The forum showcased success stories and lessons learned from field-based initiatives, with an overarching goal to encourage scaling-up efforts.

The #UpForSchool youth rally


Our day wrapped up with a large global public call for Education at New York University. We were proud to partner with UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and A World at School for the Up For School rally which brought youth leaders together with global leaders in order to demand education for the 58 million children who are currently out of school.

The youth-led event opened with the inspiring stories of out-of-school young people who are fighting for global education as a basic human right, and continued to highlight the changes that youth are making in their communities and societies.

Ahmad Alhendawi speaks at the #UpForSchool youth rally

The #UpForSchool youth rally

The event served as a launch the UpForSchool petition, which seeks an end to the barriers that prevent children from attending school.

“Political leaders can act when they hear a clear, single, loud version. As soon as they hear many, many voices over and over again, they do something. No political leader in the world can ignore it” said Sarah Brown, co-Founder of a World At School.

The event was followed by a rally in Washington Square Park.

#UpForSchool rally in Washington Square Park

#UpForSchool rally in Washington Square Park

The Youth Envoy emphasized that world leaders are unable to ignore the voices of youth channelled into a single petition, saying, “The future is now… we should all be up for school.” Make your voice heard and sign the petition today! [Sign Here]

Follow the Youth Envoy on Twitter at @AhmadAlhendawi for more updates throughout the week.