One Young World is delighted to announce the winners of the fourth annual One Young World Politician of the Year Award.
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.
These five young leaders were selected by a panel of respected international judges with substantial experience in the field of politics from a shortlist of 15 young politicians from around the world.
The winners will be presented with the Award at the One Young World 2022 Summit taking place in Manchester, 5-8 September.
Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Iceland
"If young people want to make an impact, they need to engage, participate, campaign, and put words into action." With this candidacy speech, Áslaug ran as the secretary of the Independence Party at 24 years old in the fall of 2015, one of three central leadership roles in the largest and most historical political parties in Iceland. Áslaug was elected, and a year later, became the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee, and a member of the IPU. In 2019 she became the youngest Minister of Justice ever appointed and the youngest minister in the history of the Icelandic republic. She is currently the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
Throughout her political career, Áslaug has put gender issues at the forefront. She has appointed two female Supreme Justices, which has ensured gender equality in the Supreme Court for the first time, selected the first female National Commissioner of Police, and changed legislation on stalking and digital violence. Since being elected, she has stressed the importance of young people's participation in politics and highlighted the importance of building and maintaining a solid social media presence to engage young people in politics and make complex political debates accessible to all.
Áslaug intends to continue to encourage young people to speak up and follow their dreams. She believes that younger generations view things differently, are ready to take on responsibilities and make appropriate changes and understand the importance of acting fearlessly to ensure that the demands of modern societies are met at any given time.
Juan Diego Vásquez, Panama
Juan Diego Vásquez Gutiérrez is the youngest member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Panama. Elected at the age 22, he is the first independent and youngest MP for his home district, San Miguelito, and was the most voted and youngest candidate nationwide. He was the first leader of the independent caucus and has participated in Committees concerning Human Rights, Judiciary, Local Government, National Security, Education, and Women's Rights.
A former civil society activist who has advocated fiercely against corruption and in favour of human rights for people with disabilities, Juan has been recognized nationally and internationally as one of the most influential political leaders of the country. In 2019 he was invited by UNESCO to the high-level panel on Youth Perspectives on Multilateralism, alongside chiefs of states and governments from all over the world.
Amongst his achievements, he has managed to pass legislation to modernise civil defence in Panama, a bill to defend the rights of domestic animals against cruelty, a law to promote the participation of young people in civic and academic organisations, and recent legislation to recognise the rights of nature which has been a breakthrough that has put Panama as one of the few countries in the world with legislation that protects the environment. He is currently leading and organizing many young independent candidates for the 2024 General Election, hoping to get more young leaders elected to public office.
Seun Fakorede, Nigeria
Seun is the Hon. Commissioner for Youth & Sports, Oyo State Government, Nigeria, and the Founder of Home Advantage Africa, a Social Development and Youth Empowerment Advocacy non-profit organization.
Seun believes more African Millennials are going to lead a tremendous impact in the next few years of human history than ever before and his responsibility is to raise more men to lead this vanguard. His passion and work have promoted leadership development and accountability for Millennials as critical indices to Africa's development through youth driven empowerment programs, sports, IT, and other initiatives.
As a public servant in an ever-evolving country like Nigeria, Seun has had the honour of introducing and implementing policies that have directly improved the life of people in grassroots communities. Specifically, over the last 3 years, through a myriad of human capital development initiatives and technology skills training, his contributions have helped to reduce unemployment, especially in the local communities in Oyo State Nigeria.
By becoming the youngest Commissioner to be appointed into a State Government cabinet in Nigeria, Seun became an influential voice of reason for Youths in politics not just in Nigeria but Africa as a continent. He personally mentors hundreds of youths across the continent who are also taking on the challenge of political and social-economic leadership in their local communities.
Dr Sumera Shams, Pakistan
Sumera made history when she was elected as a parliamentarian at the age of 26 for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, representing the ruling party, Tehreek-e-Insaf. She was the first female member of the Public Accounts Committee, and served as the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Health, leading elected parliamentarians and providing expertise in public health. She currently holds the office of Chairperson of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus KP, and is a member of the Child Rights & Protection Commission,
Sumera hails from a conservative district in Pakistan where a terrorist attack destroyed her family home in 2009 in the era of Talibanisation, and has had a long journey of political involvement. She is a proponent for women and youth empowerment, an advocate for better public health services, a human rights activist, and a professional Doctor.
Sumera is passionate about uplifting marginalized and less privileged communities. From grassroots engagement to district and provincial level, she supports both governmental and community programs. Her achievements include initiating The Young Parliamentary Forum, introducing a bill on HIV and Aids awareness, and successfully lobbying for laws on Reproductive Health Rights, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and Child Marriages.
As the Chairperson of WPC-KP, Sumera has partnered and collaborated with various national, Provincial, and international organizations to achieve social inclusion, gender equality, andsustainable development in Pakistan.
Taylor Small, USA
New to the political scene, Representative Taylor Small was elected in November 2020 and now serves as Vermont's first out transgender legislator and one of seven in the United States. Representative Small has been a strong advocate for marginalised, especially LGBTQ+, people in both her professional and personal lives, as a health & wellness program director for Pride Center of Vermont and a local drag entertainer. In her first year in office, Representative Small was able to pass a bill into law banning the use of the 'LGBTQ+ Panic Defence' in Vermont with unanimous support from the House, Senate, and Republican Governor.
Outside of the legislature, Taylor delivers cultural humility training for healthcare and human service providers across the state with a priority for rural and smaller practices and has now trained over 2,000 providers in her tenure. She also worked to expand the Vermont Diversity Health Project, an online database for LGBTQ+ Vermonters to find safe and affirming health & wellness providers near them and updated the program to include a map feature that now includes over 240 providers.