About Internet Society 2 June 2021

The Opportunity Your Future Needs: How I Helped Build the Internet and My Career

By Nojus SaadGuest Author

Have you ever wondered how you can change the course of the Internet? Do you want to share your ideas about how to keep the Internet secure, trusted, and a force for good with leading technology companies, government officials, and expert leaders? Are you ready to transform your career and master your leadership skills through a global UN event? Let me introduce you to the Internet Society’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Youth Ambassador program.

The program is a catalytic opportunity for international young leaders like you to have your voices heard in the global governance of the Internet and technology today.

As a 2020 IGF Youth Ambassador myself, the Internet Society offered me a transformative journey of education, networking, and empowerment in the Internet and technology governance sphere. This short-term journey has shaped my entire career. I’ve gone from being a researcher on Internet governance and digital rights issues to a lifelong global activist for Internet Inclusion, digital literacy, and bridging the digital divide.

You might be thinking that you might not be qualified enough or that you don’t have a strictly technical or legal background to join this initiative. Guess what? I was the first IGF Ambassador to have a multidisciplinary background in health care, research, gender studies, and advocacy with little technical or legal expertise. The Internet Governance Forum is one of the most inclusive multistakeholder platforms, especially for youth.

For me, it felt so amazing and unreal to be able to dialogue, learn, and make professional connections with global technology leaders. Can you imagine what it’s like to chat with people like Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet? Or experts working in organizations like Google, Microsoft, IBM, IEEE, Amazon, and UN DESA? Or government officials in the IGF, and youth leaders from around the world? It is simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will be proud of throughout your personal and professional life.

The IGF Youth Ambassador program has also contributed to empowering me to better lead and amplify the advocacy of my international civil society organization (Youth For Women) towards a gender-equal and digitally inclusive world.

Youth For Women managed to make a partnership with the International Republican Institute (IRI) through the connections I made in the IGF Youth Ambassador program. We have now received funding and support to execute a community-level digital literacy initiative on disinformation before the national elections! Besides our project on disinformation, my team and I are also advocating for national policy reform on domestic violence in Iraq.

We now have an IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group member onboard with Youth For Women as staff. Moreover, one of my fellow 2020 IGF Youth Ambassadors, Sofia Valle, worked with me during the program and liked Youth For Women’s integrated objectives of gender equality and Internet inclusion. She is now our social media advocate and content editor.

I am also currently the vice-chair of the board at the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) of the World Health Organization (WHO), mostly thanks to the incredible experience I gained from the IGF Youth Ambassadors program.

My experience in the 2020 Internet Government Forum, from the recruitment phase through learning how to strengthen my advocacy for gender equality and Internet inclusion, has helped me flourish in countless ways.

Now, it’s your turn. Let’s reshape the digital world, together!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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