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30 under 30 Young African Leaders: Ian Makamara, Kenya

The young and bold minds on this year’s 30 Under 30 list are proof that the future of Africa is bright. From entrepreneurship to music and arts, these young trailblazers have outstanding achievements, proving once again that we are never too young to lead.

  1. Ian Makamara. 23 years old. Kenya.

Ian Makamara is a young human rights lawyer pursuing justice and sustainability through the action of the law. He came to learn very quickly during his studies that the dispensation of justice often occurs outside the courtroom rather than within its walls. Thus, he began his journey in the fields of humanitarian work and social impact and has thus far participated in and led a wide variety of initiatives at a local, national and international level.

As part of the UN-SDSN Youth Great Lakes team, he contributed to the establishment of the Bridge Mentorship Program. This was a program that catered to the counseling and academic mentorship of underprivileged girls in the Kibera slums in Kenya. It lasted for a period of 1.5 years and resulted in the continued mentorship of 80 girls. Still with the UN-SDSN Youth, he played a key role in convening the Sustainability Impact Forum .This was an event organized to discuss financing the sustainable development goals in the region and how youths can acquire and leverage any funding they receive.

Ian also participated in the planning and execution of the Youth Conference Against Anti Corruption that was held in 2018, as part of UNODC’s youth engagement strategy. The conference hosted over 1,000 youth delegates and multiple stakeholders from NGOs, the Government and Civil Society and through the workshops that were held, various policy briefs and youth empowerment strategies to be implemented on a national level were curated.

Ian equally worked with the World Future Council in 2019 as a research assistant and played a key role in the research and administration leading up the best policy award of 2019. This is an award instituted by The World Future Council Foundation in partnership the IPU and UNDP and his research on various policies such as Ethiopia’s Land Redistribution Policy and South Africa’s Tax Income Incentive were instrumental in the impact evaluation that went into the selection of the award. Later in the year, he was selected as a Millennium Campus Network Fellow and together with 11 of his colleagues, he founded an initiative called Ladies in Red which focused on the eradication of period stigma and period poverty, following the suicide of a young girl in his community as a result of period shaming. Due to the undeniable impact of his work, he was selected as one of the Top 30 under 30 Changemakers of 2019 by the Opportunity Desk

Ian Makamara. Founder of Ladies in Red Initiative.

Thereafter, Ian worked with UNHCR’s Public Information unit of Ukraine and played a key role in the development and implementation of the social media campaign focused on the 25th anniversary of the UNHCR presence in Ukraine and 70th anniversary at the global level. Due to his prowess in social media and marketing, he took on the role of the Millennium Campus Network’s Director of Marketing. Within this role, he developed social media campaigns highlighting the work of the thousands of Millennium Fellows globally and corresponded with over 20,000 fellows and alumni on a weekly basis as part of MCN’s engagement strategy.

Ian was then enlisted by the Joint SDG Fund as one of the youths tasked with the creation of the JSDGF Youth Corner. This involved engaging hundreds of youths globally in order to have them tell their impact stories and even publishing an article of his own on the role of youths in leveraging social media for positive change. He then joined the Commonwealth Youth and Gender Equality Network as a member of the Gender and Governance Unit. During his time in CYGEN, he ensured that youth voices (from the commonwealth, and beyond) were represented in national, regional, and international agendas and forums with regards to gender equality issues. He also provided technical advice on how to mainstream youth voices into the development of programmes, through the development of leadership course instruction models and curricula and the planning and hosting of various events.

On the legal side of his career, Ian began working with the Lawyers Hub, a company that works at the Nexus between law and technology. In his role as a policy assistant, he played a key role in the planning and execution of the legal innovation week and the joint project carried out by Data4Change and Foxglove Legal on the mapping out of COVID-19 Laws enacted in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, including the various impacts that they had on human rights in the various countries.

Ian has continued his work as an ambassador for youth empowerment and human rights at a global level and is currently undertaking the following activities:

  1. He was selected as a regional representative for the ITU’s Generation Connect Africa Team in March. In his role as a representative, he participated in and led various co-creation sessions in preparation of the World Telecommunication Day (WTDC). These activities culminated in Ian presenting the needs and interests of Africa’s Youth before various heads of state, directors of international organizations, the ITU and ATU during the WTDC preparatory meetings that were held in April. He has since then continued in his representative role by advocating for the inclusion of the youth in various regional dialogues surrounding youth and technology.
  2. Ian was selected as a member of the CIVICUS Youth Action Team , which advocates for youths to be meaningfully represented and engaged in all of the alliance’s structures, governance, strategies, and activities. As part of the CIVICUS YAT, he has contributed to the planning of various activities that will be sure to enhance the impact of the youth in the CIVIC space, connect youth activists to each other and provide holistic training and instruction that will see youth activists globally enhance the impact of their activities.
  3. He is also currently one of the members of USAID’s International Digital Youth Council. This is a 12-member council of young leaders between the ages of 16 and 24 years who are working on issues related to digital platforms and safety, and who are working to reduce digital harm for children and youth. Over the course of his mandate as a Digital Youth Council Member he will participate in the development of a tailored social media campaign for the region of Africa, form part of an ongoing community of practice on youth leadership and youth empowerment and work directly with Mattito Watson, Senior Technical Advisor, Children and Adversity, USAID to develop a protection policy and project tailored towards combating digital harm.
  4. Ian is equally a member of the Joint SDG Fund Youth Council, which is a youth network that is focused on bridging the gap between youths’ access to resources for social impact work.
  5. Lastly, Ian was recently selected as a member of LEAP Africa‘s Advisory Board, in preparation for the upcoming Youth Day of Service 2021 (YDOS). As part of the board, he will provide LEAP Africa, partner organizations and African youth actors with expert advice on country-specific context and access to resources and networks and mobilize the youth within and outside his network to carry out community projects for YDOS. This is a project that aims to positively impact over 100,000 individuals across 20 countries in the continent and will represent the largest impact project that Ian has taken on to this date.

Connect with Ian Makamara on LinkedIn, to keep up with his current work in the humanitarian and development sector.

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