Fifty per cent of the world’s population is under age 30. So it is important that we ask: What do young people want? Of course, every generation must ask this question. But it is also an important question for Rotary today, because our clubs must evolve if we are to best serve communities that, themselves, are evolving and changing all the time.
The World Economic Forum’s recent Global Shapers Survey of more than 30,000 people under 30 from 186 countries offers some useful insights.
A majority of the respondents view climate change and conflict as the most critical issues we face. They also value a “start-up ecosystem and entrepreneurship” as vital to youth empowerment. However, they are less optimistic about having their voices heard. Over half the survey respondents do not think “young people’s views” are considered before important decisions are made in their countries. (Some good news: During my travels to several dozen countries this year, many Rotaractors shared that they believe their voices are being heard by Rotary leaders!)
It is clear that young people want to make a difference on the issues that matter to our world and their communities. Above all, they want to see results when they commit to a project. A good example is the father-and-son team of Tulsi and Anil Maharjan, members of the Rotary Club of Branchburg Township, New Jersey. With the help of grants from our Foundation, Tulsi and Anil are implementing microcredit, scholarship and homebuilding projects in Nepal to help survivors of the 2015 earthquake.
Thanks to changes made at the 2016 Council on Legislation, clubs now have flexibility to operate as they think best. This means a broader selection of club models in terms of how meetings take place.
By embracing this flexibility, we can create more examples like Anil — a former e-club member who joined his father’s Rotary club. Further, I urge you to personally encourage Rotaractors to take advantage of the option now available to join a Rotary club while they are still members of Rotaract. And help them learn how our Foundation can help them achieve their dreams of doing good in the world!
By taking action today, we can pave the way for more than 200,000 of Rotary’s future leaders to leave their own legacy of making a real difference for generations to come.
Paul A Netzel
Foundation Trustee Chair
How can we better engage youth in Rotary? I want to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org