This Activist Went to Dubai’s Expo 2020 to Share How She Advocates for Gender Equality.

Author: Jaxx Artz

The World We Want recognises the power of youth to build a better world. We are highlighting the work of young leaders who have dedicated themselves to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

Selin Ozunaldim is a gender equality activist, chapter leader for multiple organisations, and the founder of her own digital platform, We Ground Zer0. But before she is any of these things, she is a student who has had to fight obstacles and stereotypes to be given the same opportunities as her male counterparts.

Growing up in Istanbul, Turkey, Ozunaldim felt like women’s issues—ranging from period poverty to struggles with mental health—were not given the weight they deserved by society. Instead of giving into the pressure to compete with and compare herself to others, she wanted to find a way to encourage girls to work together and lift each other up.

“I believe it is and should be my responsibility to help girls who do not have the same opportunities that I have,” Ozunaldim told The World We Want. “[To be] the voice of young women and [give] them a platform to find their voices.”

Stumbling across the Girl Up campaign, an initiative from the United Nations to empower students to champion issues that impact adolescent girls around the world, Ozunaldim decided to start a chapter in Istanbul. What began as a mission to connect with her classmates has become a national group that raises awareness about gender equality while shouting out the incredible achievements girls are making everywhere.

Since then, Ozunaldim has championed issues relating to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular focus on SDG 5: Gender Equality. She is involved with different initiatives that challenge gender-based stereotypes and founded chapters of Girls Who Code and HeForShe, rooted in the goal of achieving mutual respect and equity for people everywhere.

Last month, Ozunaldim had the chance to bring her leadership skills and dedication to achieving the Global Goals to Dubai, where she attended Global Goals Week during Expo 2020.



“Being the founder of the Girl Up movement in Turkey, I had the opportunity to share our focus, work, mission and my own activism story. It was a magical experience, to be honest, being in a room full of world leaders, private sector leaders, changemakers, and award-winning people from the creative field,” Ozunaldim said.

As a speaker for the SDG Storytelling Lab, Ozunaldim joined other activists onstage to reflect on how creative storytelling can move the public to act on the Global Goals. Afterwards, audience members developed their own creative campaigns to inspire change and achieve gender equality or climate action.

Ozunaldim’s goals for gender equality are rooted in the belief that more people need to work together to challenge stereotypes, such as that girls should spend more time in the kitchen and boys shouldn’t cry. But making sure that SDG 5 becomes a reality relies on a continuation of what activists like Ozunaldim are already doing: getting a group together to change the world.

“SDG 2030 goals on gender equality can be summarised around ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls, ensuring more girls in school, less in forced marriage, more women in leadership positions,” Ozunaldim said. “The path to achieving these goals is to educate and empower women, starting when they are young girls.”