Heidi Saarinen from UNYA Finland was announced as WFUNA’s Young Leader of the Year in December 2019 after a competitive selection process involving a panel of judges including several WFUNA staff and WFUNA Youth Advisory Council members. As the President of the United Nations Youth Association of Finland, she was chosen for her outstanding contribution to her UNYA and towards achieving SDG 4 on Quality Education through the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence.
In her role, Heidi has worked on the promotion of sustainable development through the education for gender equality, peacebuilding and global citizenship education. Among others, she helped organizing the first Youth Peace Week of Finland hat inspired young people to work together for a more peaceful future. During the Peace Week, hundreds of young people were reached through the event itself and educative school visits as well. In March 2019, she convened the workshop "Youth for Youth: 2250 in Action" for international young peacemakers that provided them with the skills to promote sustainable development and a peaceful future. Her persistent efforts to strengthen youth's rights and the inclusion of youth in decision-making processes have served as a fundamental basis for all her activities.
In addition, she has worked on a development cooperation project in Guatemala that taught Maya women how to grow avocado trees. The project helps unemployed women who are otherwise staying at home and dependent on their husbands to generate their own income by selling the fruit at local markets. Through her outreach to and exchange with different stakeholders and target groups she has shown that young people, especially young women, can aspire their dreams and be great leaders and role models.
Congrats to Heidi again for her leadership in contributing to realize SDG4!