powerful politicians, one young world
© Joe Sohm

One Young World names five of the world’s most powerful politicians under the age of 35 as part of a non-partisan award to recognise good political work

One Young World, the global forum for young leaders that identifies, promotes and connects the world’s most impactful activists to create a better world with more responsible and effective leadership, today announces the winners of the Politician of the Year Award.

Established to help counter the low levels of political engagement and increased disillusionment with political processes that young people are experiencing across the world, the non-partisan award celebrates the world’s leading young politicians who have infiltrated the old guard of politics.

Fewer than 2% of Members of Parliament around the world are under the age of 35. Almost 30% of the world’s parliaments have no members under that age, despite the fact that over half of the world’s population is under the age of 30.

The annual prize is presented at the One Young World Summit, which takes place in Munich 23 to 26 of April 2021, in front of 2,000 young leaders from more than 196 countries. At the Summit, delegates gather to discuss global challenges alongside world-leaders and generate innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

The honourees were chosen by a panel of international judges from across the political spectrum, with this year’s judges including:

  • Thuli Madonsela – former Public Protector and one of the writers of the South African constitution
  • Senator Sherry Rehman – the first female leader of the Opposition in Pakistan
  • Jan Peter Balkenende – former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
  • Tara Houska – tribal attorney and former advisor on Native American Affairs for Bernie Sanders
  • Yuriko Koike – current and first female Governor of Tokyo
  • Helen Clark – former Prime Minister of New Zealand

The 2020 shortlisted are all fighting for the best interests of young people in their communities, and fostering youth participation in politics.

Who are the young, powerful politicians bringing hope across the globe?

  1. Joanah Mamombe (Zimbabwe):

Joanah Mamombe is Zimbabwe’s youngest female Member of Parliament. She is a youth member of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party in Zimbabwe and Joanah is also a respected human rights and gender activist, who has shown immense strength to stand for her ideals.

2. Michael Tubbs (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.

3. Erik Marquardt (Germany):

Erik Marquardt is a Member of the European Parliament and the German Green Party. Erik Marquardt is a staunch advocate for refugee rights, this year he spent several weeks on Lesvos to work for an improvement of the situation for refugees in the Greek camps. Besides his political activities, he is one of the initiators of the pan-European campaign “Leave no One Behind”.

4. Sarah Elago (The Philippines):

Sarah Elago is a Member of the Philippines House of Representatives. She is the first female representative of the youth party-list, KABATAAN (Filipino for young people). Currently on her second term and part of 12 House Committees, she is 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 serves as ambassador for various non-profit organizations.

5. Zarifa Ghafari (Afghanistan):

Zarifa is the Mayor of Maydan Wardak Province, and is the first female mayor in the history of Afghanistan. She is also in charge of the female division of independent journalists association whereas she has performed and taken care for women journalists’ security, safety and obtaining rights abroad as well as inside the county.

Jan Peter Balkenende, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, discusses the need for young, powerful politicians:

“The whole world has been confronted with the terrible consequences of COVID-19. A battle on the Corona virus is ongoing. In that regard we have to join forces. But we also have to reflect on new perspectives, new views and new solutions for a better world and a sustainable future. Input from young leaders is necessary!”


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