Kefan Yang, China
Kefan Yang is an activist campaigning for the rights of ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups, especially religious ethnic children, youth and women who are subject to drug use and living with HIV. Kefan is Dai (Tai Lüe) ethnic minority himself from Xishuangbanna, bordering with Laos and Myanmar in the Southwest of China. Currently, he is working on ICT and Innovative Education for the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. Prior to this, he had worked for UNESCAP on Strategic Communications and the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific on Gender Equality and Non-discrimination. Kefan holds a Master of Science degree in Media, Communication and Development from London School of Economics (LSE). While studying in the UK, Kefan received honorable Leadership Award for 2015 LSE Faith & Leadership Initiative, which was presented by HRH The Prince of Wales at Clarence House. Kefan Yang is now based in Nairobi, Kenya.
My name is YANG Kefan. I come from a little town in Southwest of China on the border with Laos and Myanmar. Growing up as a part of a religious ethnic minority and sexual minority, I understand the struggle of the marginalised youth group. Thus I want to make a difference in my community, and turn it into an inclusive one. This year marks the outset of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I believe that promoting and implementing the gist of the SDGs, to a large extent, relies on the power of youth. Also, the implementation of the SDGs is not only UN's job, but is everyone's business and we as individuals have to be part of it. In general, the UN 2030 Agenda concerns everyone. I am highly self-motivated and I am inspiring more and more youth in my community to get involved in building a better society through taking action. I used to work in Bangkok, where I had the opportunity to work for UN ESCAP as a Public Information intern and for ILO Regional Office for Asia Pacific as a Gender and Non-Discrimination Consultant. Recently, I started at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, working mainly on Education and ICT. All these experiences have equipped me with knowledge and skills that are relevant to the key goals of the 2030 Development Agenda. Whenever I go back to my little town during the holidays, I always seek opportunities to create a civic space where I share my knowledge and experiences with local people, so that they can exchange opinions and thereby benefit from it. I perceive this as a way of contributing to my hometown and community. For example, in the middle of September, within 9 days, I initiated 3 workshops on HIV/AIDS, Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination addressing audiences respectively from citizens of Jinghong city, leaders of 3 Tai ethnic minority villages (plus a Tai ethnic women group) and monk students of Buddhist Institute in Xishuangbanna Tai autonomous prefecture. Around 150 participants attended these workshops, who are expected to reach an additional 10,000 people in the region, especially in the Tai community. Actually, the topic I covered was related to sex and sexuality education. It is something that people normally do not feel comfortable to talk about in public, especially when the region is under a huge influence of Buddhism. Therefore, I think it is extremely important to create such civic space to encourage people to explore the topics and discuss the issues. Only by doing so, we can raise public awareness in these issues to achieve attitude change. As a result, there will be better outreach and those, who are marginalised because of social stigma and bias, will be included.