Get to know the WAGGGS delegates attending and supporting the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
My name is Petra and I have been part of the Slovenian Catholic Girl Guides and Boy Scouts Association for 22 years. At first I was a Cub and Brownie leader and then I moved to the European level as a volunteer in the WAGGGS Europe office. This made me want to volunteer in WAGGGS for a longer time, and share my gained knowledge with others, so I applied for a position in Our Chalet and stayed there for 3 months as an Our Chalet Assistant. One of my achievements in Guiding was being selected as a post-2015 ambassador and in this role I am trying to familiarize Slovenians with the topic of the MDGs and how to set proper goals for after 2015.
I wanted to attend the CSW to see the progress on gender equality and advancement of women in most of the countries of the world. My motivation is also one of action and the wish for a different challenge – I have been talking and exploring the topic already quite a lot and I would like to act on it now and be challenged in a new way! I am looking at it as my mission where I can share and explore my passion for the MDGs and gender issues more in depth. I am especially interested in gaps in education as I finished my MA in Educational science and am professionally working in the field of Learning and Development.
While the situation of women in Slovenia improved in the last 10 years, a woman has always been a mother and a house wife so it is hard to change that perception.
I was asked to write what my super power would be. I do not believe or wish for a super power in the sense of “night vision”, flying or being invisible because I know that each and every girl and women already has a super power within herself to create change in her community and the world if she is offered the opportunity to do so.
Petra, Slovenia – Youth Delegate (Policy)
My name is Joy Hrawi, from Beirut - Lebanon. I am a Food and Health engineer specialized in marketing, communication and sale and I am working as a project manager in a marketing and advertising company. I have been involved in Girl Guiding since the age of nine and currently I am the assistant of the Head Commissioner of the JEM (Jeune en marche). We work with the girl from 17 – 21 years old, and I have been selected to join the 58th Commission on the Status of Women in New York 2014.
Unfortunately, Lebanon has an unstable political environment resulting in a negative effect on the social situation. As the confessional divide among the people has become deeper, it has become more difficult for people to join hands and call for improving human rights conditions. As for women’s issues, the Lebanese law does not enable women married to foreigners to pass their nationality on to their husbands or children. This creates a lot of problems, as they are considered foreigners and so deprived of access to public services such as schools and hospitals, not to mention the complications of marriage procedures or obtaining working permits. Also, women in Lebanon can face a high level of discrimination embodied explicitly and implicitly within the personal status laws. All these factors hinder women’s participation in decision-making, and subject them to violence, without any special legal protection.
Through CSW I want to see changes, which can help in changing the lives of women and girls. Being an active member in the Lebanese Girl Guides Association makes me feel more responsible towards the members as well as the young women and girls in my country. It also motivates me to be part of a conference where I can share my ideas, learn and be inspired by others.
Joy, Lebanon – Youth Delegate (Communications)
My name is Hannah Bauer and I am an active member of The Scouts and Guides of Sweden. I previously attended a WAGGGS event in Rwanda on the Stop the Violence campaign.
The CSW is a unique opportunity to make our voices heard – voices of the strongest NGO advocating for girls in the world. The CSW is also a key event for UN Women in order to improve their policy work for another year to come. Being involved in UN Women on a national level in Sweden (member of the board) and WAGGGS means I am able to make the most of two worlds and be able to contribute with my skills and expertise to something that is very close to my heart. I am inspired by the girls and young women within our movement and greatly value the opportunity to show the work we do to the decision makers of the world.
Generally, Sweden has come far in terms of gender equality yet we still struggle to maintain the development towards a society with equal rights for all, especially on a policy level. The glass ceiling is letting women get close, but never granting them full access.
I currently work as a Public Relations Officer for the City of Lund and my university studies included a degree in multilingual communication and in communication management focusing on PR and Public Affairs.
I am a very open person but one hidden talent I do have is that I’ve read Harry Potter in Latin and I’d like to run a marathon. What I think is important to know about me however is my dedication and commitment to the work on girls and women’s rights and international relations, my passion for languages, and my curiosity for new parts of the world.
Hannah, Sweden – Youth Delegate (Policy)
My name is Rachael Hewton from New Zealand. I am a Guide Leader within GirlGuiding New Zealand, as well as working as a pharmacist. Also within Guiding I am a region support leader for advocacy, encouraging leaders to get their girls learning about, and involved with, advocacy.
I am participating as a remote delegate in CSW58. I wanted to get involved as the CSW addresses issues which impact on women and girls globally as well as in my own country, and I feel it's important that we have a chance to have a voice in the discussion of many important issues.
Within New Zealand, many women are fortunate to have the opportunity to become politicians, CEOs of major companies and excel in industries and professions of our choice. However there continues to be gender disparities within workplaces in New Zealand, with men earning more than their female counterparts in many jobs. As well as this, there continues to be issues of poverty, and girls within New Zealand are not being given a chance to seize opportunities which should be available to all.
As a pharmacist I am fortunate to be in an industry where employment opportunities, pay and career progression are usually on an even par for both men and women. However as a pharmacist I do encounter examples of where women are not receiving equal opportunities in education and work, and where girls and women are suffering as a result of poverty.
If I could have one superpower, it would be to be fluent in every language.
Rachael, New Zealand – Remote Delegate (Actions)
My name is Erin Wicking and I am a Girl Guide Leader from Australia, where I work with gorgeous 5 - 8 year old Fairy Guides! Along with being a Leader I am a State Trainer and the Community Development Officer for Girl Guides Victoria. I'm lucky enough to also be a WAGGGS Post 2015 Ambassador and the Coordinator of WAGGGS Post 2015 Resource group.
When asked to explain in 10 words or less why I wanted to attend CSW I said "Because I eat, sleep, breath gender equality and development issues!" I am a passionate believer in the work of WAGGGS and the United Nations and being part of this delegation is truly a dream come true for me!
Australia continues to face challenges in the advancement of gender equality. In particular women still face significant challenges with respect to economic security, leadership opportunities and living free from violence.
For my Undergraduate Degree I majored in Media Communications and Australian Indigenous Studies. I have studied International Development at Postgraduate level and hope to complete my Masters in this area. In my professional life I work for my State Guide Organisation as a Community Development officer where I focus on advocacy programs, partnerships and social inclusion.
If I could have one super power it would be Omnilinguism because imagine how incredible it would be to have the ability to talk to anyone in any language and automatically be able to understand each other!
Erin, Australia – Delegation Coordinator (Policy)
I am a member of Girl Guides Australia, where I am a leader of 10-14 year olds. I want to participate in CSW to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals and to help everyone understand what these goals are about and why they NEED to be achieved. The MDGs will be something that define our generation and working towards these goals will ensure a better future for all young women around the world.
Domestic and family violence is still a serious issue within Australia, with 10% of women having experienced physical abuse by the time they are 15 years old (Source: Personal Safety Survey 2005). Women are also disadvantaged within the workplace and career progression; with women on average earning 17.5% less than males (Source: BS, 2013, Cat. 6302.0 – Average Weekly Earnings, Australia)
If I could have one super power it would be time travel! I would love to be able to go back to the past and experience what life would have been like! I am also a classically trained soprano which is something not a lot of people know about me!
Sarah, Australia – Remote Delegate (Communications)
I am a WAGGGS Youth delegate and WAGGGS Post 2015 Ambassador. I wanted to attend CSW because I felt that with the experience I have through Kenya Girl Guides on MDGs and Post 2015, this would be a great opportunity to share the work that Girl Guides are doing and to represent girls and young women in different forums and events.
The issues that affect girls and young women in Kenya include gender violence, unemployment, early marriages, inadequate health facilities, gender inequalities in different sectors and cultural barriers.
I have a degree in Medical Laboratory Science and I work at the University of Nairobi. I am currently taking an online course on Sustainable Development at Columbia University. I have been involved through the Association in a lot of activities that touch on MDGs and I am also working on projects on environment and climate change.
If I could have one super power, it would be the power to influence people so that they may be able to tackle and change issues that affect the most vulnerable people in the community including girls and women and make this world a better place. One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I am talented in ‘still life ‘drawing.
Beatrice, Kenya – Youth Delegate (Actions)
I work as Chair Person Young Leader in Pakistan and with WAGGGS have been part of online leadership courses and attended the Juliet Low Seminar 2012 and Stop the Violence Training 2013.
I believe that true, meaningful social reform must be achieved through global dialogue. The CSW provides a unique opportunity to hear about the stories, the challenges, and the achievements of women across the globe and how to build upon that – an essential step towards a sustainable world that values all of its citizens.
Pakistan is going through an era of change, but while we have some pressing concerns for girls and young women in the country, it is also a time of opportunity for change making and great public support. Some of the key issues that we face and are addressing in our country include; access to education, access to reproductive health and safety, young women facing inequality in the workplace and insufficient methods of safe and convenient transport. It is also becoming increasingly important that the economic value of work girls and women are doing in their domestic circles be recognized by the public.
I would like the super power of physical strength and agility. As women, we tend to exercise and watch our calorie intake – mostly efforts geared towards ticking off some boxes or appearing attractive. I would love to be completely and absolutely physically fit. I don't see it happening through sheer effort though!
Hala, Pakistan – Youth Delegate (Actions)
I am a member of the Guides and Scouts of Sweden and The Danish Guide and Scout Association. I attended CSW 55 as a WAGGGS youth delegate which was an amazing experience and I made wonderful new friends from WAGGGS as well as experienced how we can take action to change the world through advocacy. It was a very meaningful way to contribute to the fulfillment of our mission and vision, so I wanted to bring my network and experience from CSW55 to good use by contributing again this year by supporting our WAGGGS delegation as a remote delegate.
I believe one of the biggest issues girls and women in my country face is ignorance. My region goes by the slogan "Probably the most gender equal region in the world" and while this may be true it doesn't mean that we are anywhere near gender equality. People often miss that crucial part. We are not there yet. We still face discrimination, gender based violence, and gender stereotypes and socialization that sets in before we are born. This is restraining us from developing to our fullest potential.
As a medical student I have plenty of experience on how we in the health care system face and treat patients based on prejudices and assumptions, where gender plays a major role. Gender matters, even in a country like mine where health care is free, when it comes to prioritizing both in the treatment and in which research to conduct.
If I could have any superpower it would be inspiring altruism. This is the super power of my greatest role model and I believe to be key to obtaining the MDGs as well as our mission and vision.
Mia, Sweden – Remote Delegate (Communications)
I am currently reading for a degree in International Management and Business. I have been involved with Girl Guiding for the past 12 years and I am currently coordinating the WAGGGS “Stop the Violence” campaign inSri Lankafocusing on non-formal education, raising awareness, and taking action to eliminate violence against girls and young women.
I represented WAGGGS as a Youth Delegate last year at the 57th CSW and had an amazing experience in New York with the rest of the delegation. I will be a Delegation Coordinator for the 58th CSW. This year the theme is related to MDGs and that made me apply this year as I have been working on the MDGs in Sri Lanka.
The MDGs have benefited so many lives but out of all the goals, I think Sri Lanka is far behind in the third goal. Out of all the issues young women face today, I think violence is critical and needs to be addressed immediately by governments, organizations, and society as a whole.
If I could have one super power, I think I would prefer to have a vision, through which I could see all the bad things that are going to happen in the future and a power to control peoples’ minds so that I could influence those bad thoughts, feelings or emotions in order to prevent people from doing wrong things.
I hope the Post 2015 Development Agenda will address all these issues we are currently facing and us as young girls be able to do our best to make a change in the society for the betterment of all mankind.
Chamathya, Sri Lanka – Delegation Coordinator (Actions)
I am a youth delegate and a Guide Leader. I have been involved in guiding for thirteen years and am studying geography at university. I am passionate about changing the world for women and girls. I have travelled with guiding and have seen the issues women and girls face and want to help improve their lives.
The issues women and girls face within the UK are sometimes quite subtle, but they still exist. Women and girls face daily harassment and abuse both within the home and in public. There are also problems within the workplace that need addressing.
If I had one super power it would be invisibility and I can play a musical instrument – the oboe.
Ella, UK – Youth Delegate (Communications)
I am Tanjila Taskin from Bangladesh Girl Guides Association. I have been working with the association for the last 21 years. After being a Guide I became a Ranger and I was the Chair of the Regional Ranger Council and also the Chair for National Ranger Council. During my Ranger period I was also elected as the member of the National Executive committee and also the representative of under 30 members. Now I am the International Commissioner of the Association. I was awarded Gold medal at National Level as “Best Girl Guide” in 1999 from the Ministry of Education.
I have attended a World Conference, an Asia Pacific Regional Conference, have got WLDP training at Pax Lodge and been to Japan as a WLDP facilitator.
My expectation from the conference was to learn how to do an effective lobbing at the government level. As a developing country like Bangladesh it will be a great opportunity for me to bring the world in my country by attending this conference. I found it a good opportunity to expose what the problems our girls are facing that is kind of similar with other developing countries. This is the place where one can raise their voice so the policy makers can concentrates on the peripheral problems.
Bangladesh is a developing country with so many social and economic problems. In my country we have almost achieved MDG 5, but still we lag behind other MDGs. Our girls are facing problems in getting education. There are numbers of students dropping out of school. We have early marriage, dowry and violence.
If I had a super power I would definitely go for the “Dignity” of a girl and women. If everybody give proper respect to a girl then it will be easier for girls and women to achieve their goals. They would enjoy equal benefits to a man as well.
Tanjila, Bangladesh – Remote Delegate (Communications)
My name is Kavindya and I am a Girl Guide at the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association. I am part of the “Stop the Violence” team in Sri Lanka.
Women's Rights, their empowerment and the issues that surround them such as discrimination, sexual harassment and stereotyping have always been issues close to my heart. Having debated on the CEDAW at a simulation of the Human Rights Council further broadened my interests on the issue of gender and the importance of combined effort in tackling the numerous issues that surround it. I believe that my experience as a remote delegate will further increase my awareness on the root causes of the issues faced by women and will allow me to connect with other like-minded individuals to come up with better solutions.
I come from an Asian culture which is patriarchal to a greater extent. One of the main issues faced by women is the stereotypes created about their gender roles that tend to hinder their progress.
In addition to this there is a lack of awareness among both the genders on issues such as sexual harassment, sexual and reproductive healthcare, available helplines and civic responsibility.
I am currently a Research Intern at the Ban Violence Against Women Initiative (BANVAW) and if I could have any superpower it would be the power to become invisible.
Kavindya, Sri Lanka – Remote Delegate (Actions)
I have been involved in the guiding movement from a young age and I know the immense impact it can have on the life of a girl. Last year, I was a WAGGGS CSW57 Youth Delegate and I am presently this year’s Communications Coordinator. I am also the Unit Leader of a Brownie Unit which encompasses girls aged 6 to 8 years of age. My Brownie Unit is the reason I want to attend the Commission on the Status of Women. I want them to live in a world that invests in girls and empowers girls. I want them to know their worth and maximize their potential.
Similarly, my undergraduate degree is in Women’s Studies and I will be pursuing my post-graduate degree in Social Work starting this September. I currently work with marginalized youth and women as well and I plan to continue my passion for gender equality in the future.
The issues that affect girls and women in Canada vary. MDG3- Gendered violence continues to permeate girls’ and women’s lives and until this is recognized rather than normalized, this will not change. Most recently, sexual assault on university campuses and sexual harassment in high schools has become quite rampant. Girls and women must unlearn the internalized messages that are entrenched in society as men must acknowledge their role in these issues and utilize their social position to make change.
Furthermore, Indigenous women are still at a greater risk than any other population in Canada to be victims of all and any forms of violence.
WAGGGS offers a great platform to voice the needs of amazing girls and women around the world and I am so grateful to be a part of this movement!
I cannot choose one super power…I would love to heal others
…and time travel. That would be awesome!
Saffina, Canada - Delegation Coordinator (Communications)