Bulgarian activist Martin Karadzhov has been appointed as one of the 2020 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals initiative. A move which signifies that the United Nations are making important steps towards a more sustainable and inclusive future for all.

Many have claimed the historic appointment forms part of much a larger movement that is finally beginning to understand the vital role LGBTQI youth play in decision making processes in communities the world over.

Karadzhov will be one of 17 young leaders aged between 18 and 29 from around the world to be appointed to the group. A group which is tasked with activating millions of young people in support of the initiatives goals.

This work will be undertaken through both through strategic opportunities with the UN and through their existing initiatives, platforms and networks.

Speaking of his appointment, Karadzhov said, “Being a young leader for the SDGs is an opportunity to help break down barriers for LGBTQI youth, advocate for our rights and amplify the voices of those too often side-lined and silenced on a global level.”

 In separate news, Karadzhov, who is the current Chair of ILGA World’s Youth Steering Committee, has also been confirmed to join a high level commission established after last years  Nairobi Summit on the International Conference on Population and Development.

Now in it’s 25th year, the 2019 summit sought to mobilise the political will and financial commitments to implement the ICPD Programme of Action. The program focuses on achieving zero unmet need for family planning information and services, zero preventable maternal deaths, and zero sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls, and youth.

In his speech to the Nairobi Summit in 2019, Karadzhov made an impassionate call, saying, Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex, queer youth, or any youth with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or sex characteristics, it is time, for our bodies, our lives, our rights, and our identities to be respected and protected.

Because this is also our programme, our future and our world, too.

That this young activist chose to pull focus on the distinct needs and rights of LGBTQI youth is nothing short of a commendable use of his position and platform. Particularly when the specific challenges faced by these individuals have only been exacerbated further by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That the voice of LGBTQI youth is now included among other young world leaders as part of both initiatives will ensure an active part in decision-making and conversations that will impact their lives and the lives of LGBTQI youth the world over.

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