By Zaya Williams
Antiguan Marver Woodley has emerged as one of the nine standout young leaders from the Caribbean, securing a spot among the 50 finalists shortlisted for the esteemed 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards.
The Commonwealth Youth Awards serve as a platform to honor young change-makers who are spearheading remarkable initiatives within their communities
Traditionally, the Commonwealth Youth Awards presents a shortlist of 20 individuals annually, from which five regional winners are ultimately chosen. However, this year marks a milestone as the list expands to include 50 inspiring young leaders. This extension, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, emphasizes the enduring impact of youth-driven development initiatives.
From the shortlist of 50, a selection of 20 finalists will be identified. These finalists will have the distinct honor of attending the awards ceremony, set to take place in London on September 14, 2023. The event assumes special significance this year as it coincides with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme.
The shortlisted individuals represent a diverse spectrum of change-makers, spanning social entrepreneurs, environmental advocates, innovators, and human rights activists, all hailing from various corners of the Commonwealth. A common thread among them is their unwavering commitment to tangible contributions aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In a year that garnered nearly 1,000 entries from 39 Commonwealth nations, the rigorous judging process led to the selection of the 50 shortlisted individuals. This esteemed panel of judges included high commissioners, development experts, and youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.
Following a rigorous judging process, those shortlisted were selected across each of the award’s five regional categories: Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Canada, and the Pacific. The panel of judges included high commissioners, development experts and youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.
In congratulating the finalists, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said:
“Each year, I am always amazed by the innovative and transformative work these young people are undertaking to create a better world for us all. I am particularly proud that 50 young leaders are being honoured in this Commonwealth Year of the Youth. I have always been of the view that development should be youth-led. Those who have been shortlisted prove that young people are not just passive bystanders, waiting to see what the future will bring. Instead, they are actively shaping it.
“I congratulate all the finalists and applaud them for the exceptional contribution that they are making in their communities. I look forward to meeting the 20 finalists in London this September.”
The upcoming awards ceremony marks a transition from virtual ceremonies necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a significant milestone of the Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Meeting, scheduled for September 11-15, 2023, the in-person presentation of the awards promises to be a momentous occasion.
Each of the 20 finalists will be honored with a trophy, certificate, and £1,000 to further amplify the impact of their initiatives. The regional winner from each region will receive £3,000, while one among these regional victors will be crowned the prestigious Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023 and granted £5,000.
Additionally, as a testament to the Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), an exceptional prize of £20,000 will be awarded to a project that will be implemented over two years. The recipient of this special accolade will gain access to coaching, development opportunities, and enrollment in QCT’s Youth Ventures Programme, nurturing the growth and success of their project.
The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work are orchestrated by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, a vital component of the Social Policy Development Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.