The recent death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg felt like a personal loss to so many generations of Americans who considered her to be a trailblazer to the women of the 1970s and an icon to the youth of today. Like the Notorious RBG, I’m constantly inspired by the youth who work towards changing their circumstances and communities for the better regardless of their age, gender, nationality, religious belief, or sexual orientation.
It is with such determination, respect, and hunger for a better world that we can achieve progress and change the culture of a country(s) for generations to come. Despite the dire situation that the present global Covid-19 pandemic presents, it highlights the importance of cooperation among countries, private and public sectors, and cohorts.
Covid-19 has become the magnifying glass that has accentuated the vulnerabilities of our systems ranging from healthcare to global economies. Rather than a vision of a day dreamer’s concept, the impact of the global economic and social crisis that has been unleashed by the pandemic must include our young populations to bring forth comprehensive and inclusive solutions.
Mexico for example is a young and vibrant country filled with energy and passion from its more than 30 million people who range between the ages of 15 and 29 representing nearly 25% of its total population. Similarly, the 16.4% of the American population aged between 18 and 29 have fervently and consistently demonstrated that development in youth leads to development overall.
As President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “we cannot always build the future of our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”. The sudden shifts of job creation and education resulting from Covid-19 could exasperate the current social structures of our countries leaving out the potential for youth empowerment and inclusion. Thus, the US and Mexico should incorporate youth as a central pillar to their national and bilateral agendas while investing in the leaders of the future.
One can find many motivating examples of both American and Mexican youth acting to better their communities in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic from pushing the private sector sees social good as a necessity (i.e. climate change, diversity, and sustainable use of natural resources) to holding government officials accountable by demanding transparency and rule of law.
Prioritizing youth as the new stakeholders in our bilateral relationship, particularly on a post-pandemic recovery effort, will provide a fresh perspective to avoid the prolongation of the current economic and social reality.
*Alma Caballero is Director for Mexico at McLarty Associates. She is also a member of the Young Advisory Council of of The US-Mexico Foundation, a binational non-profit organization dedicated to fostering bilateral cooperation and improving the understanding between the United States and Mexico by activating key people in the relationship that once were dormant. Twitter: @USMexicoFound