WAGGGS delegates at CSW57 have been busy lobbying decision-makers to make the world a safer place for girls.
Friday 1 March
Today the delegates got together for our first on-site training day! We walked down to our training headquarters in New York. This was a very exciting start to the day as this was the first time the delegates saw New York city!
We started with some fun ice breakers to get to know one another. Then our first task was to map out our own personal advocacy journey that has led us to CSW. It was interesting to hear everyone’s story. This was followed by discussion of what each delegate hopes to contribute to CSW.
After this, we brainstormed and established various group objectives to achieve while at CSW. For example, we set the goal of collecting 500 pledge cards for our “Stop the Violence” campaign. Furthermore, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has developed nine calls to action which we reviewed and discussed in-depth, sharing our own country’s position on each.
These are the nine calls to action:
- Protect and Support
- Action Plans
- No Excuses
In addition to this, we also broke off into groups to role play different scenarios such as sharing key messages, how to ask and answer questions, as well as how to respond to interviews. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading through the agreed conclusions (which is the output document for CSW that all countries agree to achieving)
Throughout the day, we had nine presentations from each delegate, which they had prepared prior to CSW. These were informative as they told us about each of the delegates’ home countries and what violence against women and girls looks like there.
It was a great day!
By Saffiina and Fiona
Saturday 2 March
Today we met in the hotel for some more on-site training. We got into our function groups (communications and media, actions and mobilizers) and started to plan what we are going to do during our time at CSW. We have a lot of exciting activities planned!
We also heard some more individual presentations from our fellow delegates. We also practiced what to say in interviews with some media role playing. We also started working on our action plans for when we return home.
During our training, it started snowing outside. It was the first time that some of our delegates got to see snow. However, their excitement soon faded as it got colder.
We went to the UN to collect our passes. This was very exciting for all the delegates! We all took lots of photos. We are now feeling very official and a part of the UN.
We finished in the early afternoon to have a chance to enjoy New York City. Some went toTimes Squareand loved it and thought it was beautiful. Another group went out for lunch at a Thai restaurant. The food was very yummy.
We are looking forward to putting everything we learnt into practice at the first week of CSW!
By Claire and Nazish
Sunday 3 March
CSW has begun and I cannot believe how amazing all of these young delegates are!
Today a few of us started our day early, woke up and taxied ourselves up to a New York school to facilitate sessions with the Working Group on Girls. Rosy, Stephanie and Claire assisted in sessions for teenagers and Fiona, Syliva and Nazish assisted myself and Amy in facilitating sessions to a small group of college students. It was a great way to start the week. We all got to meet other girls and young women who will be at CSW and we all got our feet wet with facilitating and public speaking.
During one of the sessions, we got to hear from Michelle Bachelet. At the end of her speech, there was a chance for questions and Claire, Stephanie and Kumbakani got up to ask a few questions. Kumbakani asked Michelle if she would be willing to add her voice to our Stop the Violence campaign. And she was! She signed a pledge card and has a Stop the Violence bracelet! Rosy also met her in the bathroom and Fiona lent her a pen!
After a long day, we headed back to the hotel for the first daily debrief. We discussed the day and set the schedule for tomorrow.
A lot is going to happen over the next week and I really can't wait to see what the delegates are going to accomplish! Follow us on twitter and facebook!!
By Christa (Support Coordinator), Sangam World Centre
Monday March 4th
What an exciting first day at the Commission on the Status of Women! We were all very busy today ensuring that the voices of girls were heard at a variety of side and parallel events, whilst we lobbied decision makers at the United Nations government sessions.
Rosy, a delegate from the UK, attended the Opening Ceremony of CSW held at the General Assembly in the UNHQ. Rosy heard from a variety of amazing speakers comment upon this year’s priority theme “the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.
Chamathya was a panellist at the United Nations Foundation Event, Girl Up Rising. She spoke about the problems and challenges facing girls in her home country of Sri Lanka as well as speaking about her personal experience of working with the Stop the Violence campaign in Sri Lanka. Chamathya addressed the role that non-formal education can play in combating violence against women and girls by changing social norms. Moderated by Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, we were lucky enough to have a sneak peak of the much anticipated movie Girl Rising. Justin Reeves, from 10x10, was also there to share his experiences on the stories shared within the film and the potential it has for stirring up change.
Afterwards Chamathya participated in a Google+ Hangout where people around the world were able to engage with Chamathya and two other panelists on issues that effect the girl-child and the specific problems that girls face all over the world.
Later on Sylvia from Zambia, Emna from Tunisia and Emily from Australia interviewed Kathy Calvin from UNF and discussed the importance of recognising girls’ rights and speaking out to governments, decision makers and civil society. Kathy, a former Girl Scout mentioned the important skills that Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting gave her as a child and stressed the importance of education for empowering and inspiring young women and girls to be the change they want to see in the world.
Saffina, who is from Canada, attended the Canadian Delegation Reception at the Permanent Mission, Rosy attended the UK Reception and rounding it off Fiona and Claire (or Team Kiwi) attended the New Zealand Reception where they were able to meet a wide range of people and ask how girls’ voices were being represented at CSW. Emily attended an Australian Delegation meeting and then afterwards participated in an Australian Asia Pacific Networking Evening where governments and non-government organisations came together to discuss goals and share experiences regarding the issues that women AND girls face in the region.
All of the delegates had a very active day, attending events, asking questions and advocating for girls. The first day was brilliant and everyone worked with enthusiasm to achieve our objectives. WAGGGS delegates are an energetic and passionate group of young women and this was played out perfectly on the first day. Let’s keep this energy up! Spread the word and change the world: Stop the Violence!
By Chamathya and Emily
Tuesday 5 March
"Healthier is wealthier"
This would be my answer if someone asked me what the outcome of the youth consultation on post-2015 that took place today was. It was an intensive three hour workshop with youths on the Millennium Development Goals. Nobody can deny the progress done in education worldwide. Is it impressive reading the statistics in Asia Pacific on the eradication of extreme poverty but not the same can be said about the sub-Sahara. As the current goals shall be expiring within two years, the UN is in the process of consulting various nations and stakeholders on what should come after. WAGGGS delegates helped facilitate this youth consultation. Since we are here for the CSW, the issue of gender equality came up in all groups - we should combat violence against women and girls for a better world and this is what WAGGGS is pushing for.
If we live in a world without violence, the economy will be better off, there will be no long medical, psychological waiting lists and less dropouts from schools.
Meanwhile, other WAGGGS delegates attended the CSW briefing whilst others made a big impact at the Stop the Tide event where Rosy gave a speech on violence in teenage relationships and empowerment through education. This event made WAGGGS very visible.
WAGGGS is making a big difference at the CSW. And if governments weigh our proposals in the Agreed Conclusions, they will realise that a world without violence would be better for all. Governments should not be part of the problem, but part of the solution. Let's join hands to change our world.
By Stephanie and Emna
Thursday 7 March
Today was a really special day for us as delegates, for WAGGGS and for the Stop the Violence campaign – today was the day we officially launched the Voices against Violence curriculum.
The morning started bright and early, with a few us going to NGO briefings while the rest of the group stayed at the hotel to do one final run-through of our dance for this afternoon's flash mob. We then split into two groups. One group stayed to make sure everything was ready for the curriculum launch. The other group went to an event where Emna was speaking about violence against girls in Tunisia.
Emna's speech was wonderful – she talked about the different forms of violence that girls in her country face, and about the attitudes that girls have towards violence. At the end of the speech, she got a standing ovation, and Rosy and Andrea cried!
After the event, we all ran to the UN Headquarters for the Voices against Violence launch. We had special guest speakers – Mary Mc Phail, WAGGGS' Chief Executive, Kathleen Lynch, Irish Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People and Ahmed Alhindawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. Hasiniaina, one of WAGGGS' Youth Delegates, also spoke about violence against girls and women in Madagascar and how her association had piloted the curriculum.
At the launch we also had a special performance by Margot, Saffina, Sylvia and Nazish, showing what non-formal education on gender-based violence looks like. The event was so popular we turned away over 100 people! At the end of the event, Michelle Bachelet came to speak about the curriculum and why non-formal education is so important to empower girls and young women. She also said that the Girl Guides are a force to be reckoned with!
On a complete high from the amazing launch event, we all headed across the road to a hotel where we met loads of WAGGGS supporters. Claire fromNew Zealandspoke about her experiences with introducing the curriculum to her Pippins (five - seven year olds).
Halfway through the event, as we were all busy eating the lovely cheese and salad the hotel had laid on for us, and we heard “I am one in ten million... I am one in ten million... I am one in ten million...” This was our cue – if we were going to embarrass ourselves at all during this trip, this was our time.
As all the delegates walked towards the front of the room saying “I am one in ten million”, hundreds of eyes turned to watch us and silence descended. Suddenly, our music started and the flashmob we had been practising all week began. It was so exciting to feel that all our hard work was paying off – we were (mostly) in time with each other, and our guests seemed to really enjoy it, so all-in-all, a success!
That evening, we attended the second young women's caucus. We looked at the first draft of the Agreed Conclusions and recommended changes that we would like to see. This was also a great opportunity to find out what other young women had been doing at CSW, and to speak about different forms of violence in our own countries.
After a very busy day, we left the caucus happy and very excited for whatever the final day at CSW would bring us.
By Rosy and Kumbukani
Friday 8 March
Today was International Women’s Day. The morning started cold and wet. Some delegates attended UN sessions whilst others attended NGO briefings and took part in the WAGGGS 24 hour Chat.
Emily spoke at a UN Women Australia event "Foundations for a violence free future: empowering young people.” Emily shared with the audience WAGGGS’ key messages at CSW and highlighted the importance of involving girls in the elimination and prevention of violence.
Sylvia attended a session hosted by Norway, Zambia, UN Women and WHO. The First Lady of theRepublic of Zambia, Dr. Kaseba, was the Guest of Honor for the session. She shared with the audience the realities of violence inZambia. She highlighted the many issues that are affecting women and girls, and what challenges they are facing due to their gender, she also shared the steps that have been put in place to address violence against women and girls, not only inZambia, but around the world. At the event, Sylvia contributed that it is essential to directly involve girls in the elimination of all forms of violence as they are discriminated against, by not only their gender, but their age as well.
Chamathya and Claire attended the morning UN session where Ban Ki-moon and Michelle Bachelet spoke about the UN’s commitment to ending violence against women and girls. The U.N. has called for a global push to end this injustice and provide women and girls with the security, safety and freedom they deserve.
“This year on International Women’s Day, we convert our outrage into action. We declare that we will prosecute crimes against women – and never allow women to be subjected to punishments for the abuses they have suffered. We renew our pledge to combat this global health menace wherever it may lurk – in homes and businesses, in war zones and placid countries, and in the minds of people who allow violence to continue,”Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General
The delegates later had an evaluation session in the afternoon. It was felt that as a delegation we had successfully made WAGGGS visible and had lobbied effectively on the Agreed Conclusions. We felt proud that we had shared our Stop the Violence materials with many other participants present at CSW. We tried our best to make sure girls around the world have been well represented this week and their voices heard.
We ended our time in New York with a grand tour of the City. It was a great experience, breathtaking and provided lasting memories.
As everyone gets ready to head back to their own countries we feel we have made life-long friendships through this experience. We wish Fiona and Kumbukani all the best for continuing this important work in the second week of CSW.
By Sylvia and Amy