To many, the United Nations is a seemingly distant organization with little impact on our daily lives. This year’s UNA-USA Youth Observer, Cynthia Yue, is trying to change that mentality.
Cynthia represents the voices of all the young people in the United States at the UN. From engaging with young people through listening tours to attending conferences and voicing issues important to America’s youth, Cynthia’s goal is to increase youth civic participation and make the UN more accessible to young people everywhere.
“We are elevating young people, and making them recognize how important they are as leaders in their community”
Cynthia first got involved with UNICEF at age 14, by starting the first UNICEF club in Tennessee. As she became more involved with UNICEF and UNA-USA, she developed a passion for civic engagement and making sure that young people had a say in the everyday policy decisions that affected them. Since then, she has grown more involved with politics, including working on advocacy for UNICEF, interning with the United States Senate, and attending the George Washington University.
“I grew up feeling like I didn’t have a voice, and no one was listening because I was a woman, because I was a person of color, because I was young. My goal is to make people realize that they… deserve to be heard all the more because they are women, because they are people of color, and because they are young”
Cynthia’s goal is to talk to and elevate young people. She takes inspiration from her youth as a first generation American, and her journey of finding her political voice. Now, she amplifies the voices of the youth who are so crucial to ensuring a successful future of the world. Most recently, she has completed a listening tour, where she attended virtual meetings with youth around the world, listening to the voices of young Americans in order to present their ideas, opinions, and civic efforts at the next UN General Assembly meeting.
“I heard all of you speak, I heard the issues that you care about, I heard the stories of what you are doing on an individual level”
Cynthia also works closely to accomplish the UN SDGs, a list of 17 goals that she describes as “everything that our world strives to achieve by 2030”. From no poverty to partnerships, the SDGs are the UN’s top priorities, and they cannot be achieved without young people. For example, SDG 13–climate action–is something that young people have already begun taking a lead on.
“I love that the SDGs are a set of ideals that our entire world, our global community can strive for, and I also love that there are things that we can do on a local level, to ensure that we are tackling every single SDG in one way or another”
From the SDGs, to the UNA, to the Youth Observer, the UN offers a wide variety of opportunities for young people to get involved. Whether you hop on a call to have your opinions sent to the Secretary General, or organize crucial community advocacy work, the UNA offers a platform for young people to make an impact. Most importantly, Cynthia says that in order to have your voice heard, “Never stop advocating”. Whether it’s to your small circle of family and friends, or the 2021-2022 UNA-USA Youth Observer, if you keep talking, someone will stop and listen.
“We, as women, need to stop apologizing for having opinions. We need to stop apologizing for having our thoughts, we need to stop apologizing for asking for the bare minimum, which is just a seat at the table”