Jolly Amatya is Inspiring the World's Youth

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When Jolly Amatya first came to the Youth Assembly (YA) at the United Nations, she arrived as a delegate for Nepal and was just 22 years old. Little did she know that the experience would turn into an opportunity to lead delegates, meaning she would become the first and youngest Nepali to do so.

Today, the 27-year-old can say that from 2015 through 2017, she was a youth chair and co-chair for the YA. She is directly involved in developing programming for the YA, a three-day youth conference held twice per year. The role has provided her a platform for encouraging youth to be more involved in policy making.

“There are 1.8 billion young people all around the world,” Jolly says, which is a record high. Youth need to realize that by getting involved locally and globally, they can have a large impact on changing politics – and the world, she notes. “If we are in power … then there’s nothing that can stop us.”

Growing up as a woman in Nepal, Jolly is tuned in to the many women’s equality issues in the country. The country is very beautiful, she explains, but not without its challenges.  Although she was given many opportunities at home, “wherever I went, whether it was at school or whether it was at a social event or whether it was some organization, I always felt the inequality while growing up in Nepal as a young woman. And it’s not only my case – it is a case for every woman and girl in Nepal.”

Youth, Jolly says, can change these long-held negative views about women. A perfect example of this is the recent change in Nepali law that bans chhaupadi, the practice of sending menstruating girls and women away from the home due to the belief they are “unclean.” Jolly believes the government felt pressure to change the law, partly due to the viral attention that the death of a young girl received across social media. “Young people with the use of social media have the capacity and the potential to highlight and expose so many wrong things that have been happening in society.” 

In Nepal, Jolly also helps with ongoing relief efforts in areas hit by the natural disasters of recent years, and – together with her two siblings – runs the Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative there, which also creates employment opportunities for youth and women. She has also been named an Honorary Tourism Ambassador for Sustainable Development in Nepal by the Ministry of Tourism.

During her time here in New York City, she has been active as a board member for the Metro New York Chapter of the U.S National Committee for UN Women, is a member of the United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth, and stays involved with an impressive list of youth and women’s empowerment organizations. She was awarded the Young Global Leader Achievement Award by the Global Connections for Women Foundation in New York in 2015. On International Youth Day 2017, she received a National Youth Award.

Looking toward her future, Jolly has aspirations of one day attending school for a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Economics, and truly believes in the role youth will play in changing the world. “I have interacted with a lot of young people … and there is this negative connotation that they have toward politics,” Jolly explains, saying the mindset needs to change. “They talk as if they have no role in it. Young people need to realize that it’s high time that we take the matter in our own hands and get actively involved in policy making.”

As she continues to represent Nepal on a international level, she lends some advice to the women of her home country, encouraging them to keep their heads held high. “I know that it is hard for them in Nepal,” she says, acknowledging that each and every girl has big dreams. “They just need to believe in themselves and believe in their dreams and their potential – and never let anybody else influence them or tell them that they’re not worth it,” she says. “We have to realize as young girls and women that we are not less than anyone.”

Mikki Brammer