The One Young World Politician of the Year Award recognises five of the world's most outstanding politicians between the ages of 18 - 35, who are using their positions to have a positive impact on young people in their communities and countries. Through their important work, these winners highlight the benefit of including young people in politics.
Erik Marquardt, 33, Germany
Mr. Erik Marquardt works as an MEP in Brussels and Strasbourg. Before having this role, he worked as a photographer reporting on escape routes to Europe, the War in Afghanistan, and the lives of Afghan refugees. He was part of the Sea Rescue Missions in the Mediterranean, where he helped to save people from drowning. This year he spent several weeks on Lesbos, where he worked to improve the situation for refugees in the Greek camps, of which most inhabitants are children and young people. Besides his political activities, he is one of the initiators of the pan-European campaign “Leave No One Behind”.
Marquardt communicates his political approach very strongly through social media using his photography skills. Through this, he is able to reach younger audiences. As member and former Spokesperson of the “Grüne Jugend”, the youth organisation of the Green Party in Germany, Marquardt has always worked to inspire young people to get active and engage themselves in working for a better and more sustainable tomorrow.
Joanah Mamombe, 27, Zimbabwe
Joanah Mamombe is Zimbabwe’s youngest female Member of Parliament. A molecular biologist by profession and a youth leader in Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party in Zimbabwe. Mamombe is also a respected human rights activist. Through her active role in Parliament, championing changes in law and speaking truth to power, she continues to highlight the plight of the young person.
Mamombe has been the subject of numerous state police investigations which are described by Amnesty International as “persecution through prosecution”. Most recently, Mamombe was detained and charged with allegedly falsifying reports of being abducted and tortured in reprisal for demonstrations she led in May 2020. Mamombe denies these charges and is determined to continue her advocacy for reform.
Mamombe was listed under the 2019 "100 most influential young Africans" by Africa Youth Awards, an organisation based in Abuja, Nigeria. In 2014, in recognition of her courageous work she was chosen to attend a global conference in Denmark marking 100 years of women in politics and leadership. In 2017, Mamombe was a keynote speaker at the Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe focusing on young people as change makers.
Michael Tubbs, 30, United States
Upon taking office in January 2017, Michael Tubbs became Stockton’s first African-American mayor and the youngest mayor in the history of the United States to represent a city with a population over 100,000. Under his leadership, Stockton has elevated from a bankrupt city to the sixth most fiscally healthy city in the nation. Mayor Tubbs has launched several initiatives bringing funding and focus to education in the city, such as the Stockton Scholars and the Stockton Service Corps (SSC). In addition to expanding opportunities for Stockton’s youth and sharing that experience through his fellowships, Mayor Tubbs launched the nation’s first ever municipal level basic income pilot and significantly improved the rates of violence in the city - overseeing a 30% reduction in homicides.
Included in Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” list, Politico’s Top 50, and as the recipient of the 2019 JFK New Frontier Award, Mayor Tubbs has been recognized nationally as a staunch advocate for structural change and the provision of an economic floor for all.
Sarah Elago, 30, The Philippines
Sarah Jane Ibañez Elago is the first female representative of the youth party-list, KABATAAN (Filipino for young people), in the House of Representatives of the Philippines. Elago served as the youngest female legislator of Congress during her first term at 26. In 2015, Elago was nominated as President of the largest network of student governments, National Union of Students of the Philippines, and led the Rise for Education (R4E) Alliance. As the principal author of Comprehensive Free Public Higher Education Bill in 2017, she worked alongside R4E in pushing for passage of a landmark law benefiting around two million college students each year since 2018. She has garnered a lot of support as one of the principal authors of the free public internet access law from 2017.
Currently on her second term and as part of 12 House Committees, she is the youngest of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, a member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, and she serves as an ambassador for various non-profit organizations.
Zarifa Ghafari, 27, Afghanistan
Ms. Zarifa Ghafari is the Mayor of Maydan Wardak Province, and is the first female mayor in the history of Afghanistan. In Maydan Wardak the support for the Taliban is widespread, and Ghafari has thus been subject to multiple threats of violence. She is a staunch advocate for democracy, a human rights activist, and a defender of women's rights.
Concerned for the rights women & young people in her country, Ghafari started her career working for Afghan Women Protection and Rights. As part of this initiative, Ghafari established the “Afghan Women Development and Help Foundation”. The most impactful initiative of this foundation was to advocate for female inclusion in the Afghan National Army. Before being selected as Mayor, she was appointed as a Youth Parliament representative from Maidan Wardak province due to her continuous service to people's welfare. In addition to her role as Mayor, Ghafari is also in charge of the female division of an independent journalists association, where she works for female journalists’ security, safety and obtaining rights abroad as well as inside the county. She is listed in " The BBC's 100 Women of 2019".