Launching a global movement of young leaders

Powerful narrative can challenge paradigms. It can unite constituencies that mobilize people into a movement.

Last week advocates from across the United States and around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. and virtually at a national IRF Summit to focus on working together to support International Religious Freedom (IRF).  The Summit featured a young leaders track for ages 16 to 30 to equip participants with the knowledge, advocacy skills, and professional connections to make a difference on the frontlines of human rights advocacy. Chaired by Nguyen Dinh Thang and co-chaired by 21Wilberforce Advocacy and Training Coordinator, Trent Martin, the training was provided by experienced advocates, government officials, and survivors of religious persecution.

The premier leadership program kicked off with three pre-summit interactive online training sessions.

  • What is International Religious Freedom and Why Does it Matter?  VIEW RECORDING
  • Creating Your Advocacy Toolkit Workshop  VIEW RECORDING
  • Standing United: How to Form Diverse Coalitions of Young Leaders for IRF  VIEW RECORDING

During the Summit, young leaders joined in the general track events and participated in programing tailored for them, including:

  • The Launching Young Leaders Network Side Event: Young leaders applied their IRF knowledge and advocacy training to brainstorm and develop plans for projects, such as standing with international prisoners of conscience, that they will implement in their communities.
  • Congressional Advocacy Day: Young leaders were given the opportunity to meet with Members of Congress and/or staff on Capitol Hill to advocate in support of IRF.
  • Professional development opportunities: Young leaders personally connected with experienced advocates in the field and participated in networking events.

Approximately two hundred young leaders registered for this inaugural program and participated in various segments of the programming. They represent a diverse group that now forms the backbone of a global young leader movement to stand for freedom of religion and belief for all. With the training they received and the perspectives they learned; participants are uniquely equipped to catalyze real societal change.

During those three days, our Young Leaders Track was permeated with the spirit of solidarity, friendship, and true leadership — the true leader sets others up to lead and to succeed.On the next leg of our individual and common journeys, we will have each other and a growing base of mutual support to count on. Let us capitalize on what we have achieved to expand our network of young leaders across America and beyond. Let us be part of, no, at the forefront of, the global movement for international religious freedom.” Nguyen Dinh Thang, PhD, CEO & President, BPSOS