Spreading the word on the SDGsJan 18, 2017
Refusing to be daunted by her hearing impairment, Anju Gurung—back from attending the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange in Manila as part of a youth action component of UNDP’s ESP—is keen to mobilize young people, including those with disabilities, to proactively contribute to achieving the SDGs
Despite the many challenges that have consistently threatened to demoralize and derail her, Anju Gurung—who has had a profound hearing disability since birth—has managed to stay very much on track, refusing to let her condition subdue her ambitions. It was this determination that got her through a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Sign Language Studies from the Indira Gandhi National Open University, and then onto working at the National Federation of the Deaf, Nepal. And recently, it also took her to the Asia Pacific Youth Exchange (AYPE) programme in Manila, Philippines, as part of a youth action component of UNDP’s Electoral Support Project (ESP)—a chance for her to get a better grasp on the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the possibilities they embody.
The three-day workshop was packed with novel experiences for Anju—including interacting with a global network of delegates and participating in various research exercises. “I met all kinds of people from entirely different communities and ideologies than that of my own,” she gushes. “There were a number of innovative leadership activities and energizers that helped me better understand the SDGs.” This learning was evident during the Asia Youth Forum, in which Anju was a panelist, wherein she shared some of her thoughts and ideas to do with how Nepal might move towards attaining the SDGs.
It is with a renewed sense of purpose that Anju, now back in Nepal, is strategizing to put what she learned in her time in Manila into action, and raise awareness about the SDGs among people with hearing disabilities. Part of her plan involves going around schools and communities in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kavre districts to organize awareness programmes on the SDGs, encouraging young people—including those with disabilities—to proactively contribute to the achievement of the goals. “I’m hoping to initiate two new projects related to SDG 4, related to bolstering quality education, and SDG 8, which refers to the promotion of economic growth and decent work for all,” Anju says, explaining that she wants to mobilize local youth organizations, youth clubs, schools and other local stakeholders in the endeavors.
Recognizing the strength, willpower and keenness to work for the good of the larger community that Anju—much like other youth leaders in Nepal—has demonstrated, particular in light of her physical disability, Sophie Kemkhadze, UNDP Country Director, a.i, says that UNDP Nepal is proud to be working with her. “At UNDP Nepal, we’re strong believers in the power of youth,” she says. “SDGs are a shared agenda for all, and leaving no one behind is one of the core principles of the goals.” Describing Anju’s efforts in advocacy as “inspirational”, she adds: “There are so many talented and committed young people like her around us who enable us to believe that the SDGs will be realized.”