The youth sub-committee’s first strategy session at the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, titled, “From Youth-Serving to Youth-Led,” occurred at the UN Headquarters in Geneva on April 16. It hosted youth from all over the world.

When Sister Jadayah Muhammad and Sister Qadira Muhammad traveled abroad to Geneva, Switzerland, they strove to live up to the sentiment expressed in the Nation of Islam’s Vanguard Pledge: “To conduct my personal and public life according to the highest moral and ethical standards.”

The two M.G.T. and G.C.C. (Muslims Girls Training and General Civilization Class) Vanguard—the unit composed of young women of the Nation of Islam—received express permission from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to attend the United Nations’ third session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. The forum took place on April 16-19 in Geneva.

Sister Jadayah Muhammad, 28, from Brooklyn, New York, is the executive director and UN Representative of the International Youth Leadership Institute (IYLI) and a co-chair of the International Civil Society Working Group Youth Sub-Committee for the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.

Qadira Muhammad, 27, who resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is one of the UN representatives for the IYLI and coordinator of the youth sub-committee. Both are part of the executive team of the youth sub-committee, along with co-chair Miles Henderson and head of communications Chaneil James.


The forum is a place to “discuss human rights issues for Black people globally,” Sister Qadira Muhammad said to The Final Call. The forum’s 1,000 attendees were composed of politicians, dignitaries, and representatives from states and countries across the world, as well as professionals and civil society, meaning everyday people.

“Our goal is to make sure that youth can be heard, especially considering that Black youth are such a crucial population just in world history and leading movements, but also in the state of the world right now,” Sister Jadayah Muhammad said to The Final Call.

The UN’s General Assembly adopted the resolution for the forum in August 2021 and held their first session in Geneva in December 2022. The second session was held in late May/early June 2023 in New York. Sister Qadira Muhammad and Sister Jadayah Muhammad attended both previous sessions.

The recent forum was organized under the theme, “The Second International Decade for People of African Descent: Addressing Systemic Racism, Reparatory Justice and Sustainable Development.”

Conclusions and recommendations were presented on April 19, and the report will be presented to the 57th session of the UN Human Rights Council in the fall and the 79th session of the UN General Assembly at the end of this year.

Qadira Muhammad, left, and Jadayah Muhammad, right, pose on the grounds of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Photos courtesy of Jadayah Muhammad and Qadira Muhammad

The youth voice

As co-chairs of the International Civil Society Working Group Youth Sub-Committee, Sisters Jadayah and Qadira had several items on their agenda. On April 15, the sub-committee held a youth dinner attended by 60 people.

The youth sub-committee also held two strategizing sessions to discuss issues about Black youth. Organizers launched a survey to collect information regarding the issues and policies Black youth care about the most.

The two sisters are urging Black youth all over the world to fill out the survey. The sub-committee drafted a youth declaration based on the survey, town halls and a previous petition for more youth participation that garnered over 150 responses. 

The youth declaration is the first one for the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. Sister Qadira Muhammad described it as a “very powerful moment.” Most speakers at the forum who give recommendations and state their commitments have a maximum of two minutes to speak.

“We had to push, as the youth sub-committee, to get more time, because we were saying that this is not just representative of any individual organization. What we’re working toward is something to be representative of all Black youth. Even if it is provisional, we still have enough data to present something that’s from not just the youth who are present at this forum, but youth who are not able to make this forum,” Sister Qadira Muhammad said. 

They asked for four minutes; the chair gave them unlimited time. The declaration was presented by Cameron Clarke and Yūmi Ndhlovu, members of the youth sub-committee.

The youth declaration included seven total recommendations: the formal establishment of at least two youth seats among the Permanent Forum members with at least one youth civil society representative; the creation of a “Youth Forum,”

Which would be a separate youth sub-conference at the Permanent Forum; the development of a Pan-African Student Congress; additional financial support for the Youth Forum through the development of cooperative economic systems; emphasizing the call for reparations;

More global representation at the UN Security Council through a permanent African member-state to increase the power of youth’s governments for influence on the international stage and to hold the next Forum and future forums at UN Headquarters in Africa and locations across the diaspora.

Cameron Clarke (second from left) and Yūmi Ndhlovu, who are members of the International Civil Society Working Group Youth Sub-Committee, read the youth declaration as youth forum participants stand behind them. Photos courtesy of Jadayah Muhammad and Qadira Muhammad

Jadayah Muhammad explained that Africa, with 40 percent of all Africans being under the age of 15, should have youth representation on the Permanent Forum.

“Part of reading out the youth declaration, there was a moment where we asked people in the room, if you support the presence of youth on the forum, if you’re supporting youth for change, raise your hand. And basically, the whole room raised their hands,” she said. “I watched the representatives from several countries sign our petition for increasing youth representation.

And I thought: Wow! that’s a powerful thing to get an immediate commitment from countries to sign on to support. That’s something that we’ve been fighting for the past three forums, almost three years.”

After the declaration, the youth sub-committee circulated a petition that garnered 300 signatures, not counting digital signatures. The petition advocated for at least two youth members on the Permanent Forum, with at least one being part of civil society.

The youth sub-committee has also been working on increasing diversity in youth attendees. Sister Qadira Muhammad noted that the first two forums were Western-leaning, with the majority of representation coming from Central America, South America, Europe and North America.

“This year, at least for Asia, we had an Asia contingent come in, Black Asians, or those who are Black, living in Asia,” she said. 

The international mission of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad

Sisters Jadayah and Qadira expressed how they were received as members of the Nation of Islam. They stated that the people were happy to see members of the Nation present.

“Even though we were coming for the International Youth Leadership Institute in terms of the organization that we were representing on paper, people saw us and said, ‘Wow, the Nation is here.’ ‘Wow, we love what you did last year. Thank you so much for being here. We need your voice and your work,’” Sis. Qadira Muhammad recounted.

Their main goal in attending the UN forums is to connect with others of like minds.

“The White man has successfully kept us so segregated and separated that we don’t realize that the things that we’re fighting for in the United States, everyone everywhere, especially Black people in those areas, are fighting for the same thing,” Sister Qadira said. “The White man basically sets up the same structures he does everywhere to create issues in our communities.

Colonialism, slavery, all of it are just different shades of the same thing. And if we can realize as a people worldwide that what you’re experiencing in Colombia or what I’m experiencing in the United States, what you’re experiencing in Sudan, what you are experiencing in the UK, they’re literally doing the same thing to us as a people worldwide,” she added.

“And once we recognize that we all have the same issues and that we all actually pretty much feel the same way about the solution, then it’s over. We can come together and unite, and that’s what they do not want,” she added.

“We use the Nation as our guiding principle on how we conduct ourselves, and more importantly, we work to put Allah first and foremost in all of it,” Sis. Qadira Muhammad added.

Both have received direct guidance from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan during past travels that they still apply today. Sis. Qadira Muhammad was 16 years old when she first traveled out of the country through a student ambassador program. She and her family received guidance from the Minister then. She has kept the Minister’s advice to stay in prayer of Surahs 113 and 114 of the Holy Qur’an, for protection.

Sister Jadayah had the blessing of meeting Minister Farrakhan before she went and lived in China for a semester. The Minister was in New York at the time and she was able to ask him how she could still help her Nation even though she would be far away.

From left: Cameron Clarke, Benedicta Donkor, Qadira Muhammad and Miles Henderson speak with the chair of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Honorable Ambassador Dr. June Soomer of St. Lucia, on April 16.

“He said you go and you learn as much as you can so you can bring it back and help our people. And I took that personally,” she said.

They noted how the forum represented what unity for Black people would look like on the international level. They both felt it was important to show up in their M.G.T. and G.C.C. style headpieces and garments.

“We are coming to represent ourselves, our culture and what we want and what we believe and showing that the Nation is here. Our presence is here, and it will continue to be here. It will continue to grow, and we will be the ones to help unite our people,” Sis. Qadira said. 

They also acknowledged that the real solutions for Black people globally will come from the people and not from the UN.

“As the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has said before, we cannot depend on the United Nations to solve our problems and that we must not depend on others to do for us what we can do for ourselves. So, that’s part of why we find engaging at this forum to be so important because this is where we can collaborate and easily see and meet and work together for the sake of achieving that end,” Sis. Jadayah said.

“Our hope is to continue to get more young people involved and get more young people incorporated into our work and our network so that we can facilitate that work more easily and that we can be, as time goes on, if it be the will of Allah, an even greater resource for facilitating that unity and that power galvanizing the power that Black youth around the world have.”

The International Civil Society Working Group Youth Sub-Committee has open applications until May 13. To fill out the application, visit

To take the Black youth survey, visit For more information on the youth sub-committee, visit the Instagram page @icswgyouth.