Post-2015 Ambassadors' Blog
Our Post-2015 Ambassadors want to share with you what they are up to, what we're advocating for, and why. Read on for the latest news from our ambassadors around the world.
Preparing for UNCSW
Petra Stipanié - Slovenia - 18/02/2014
I must say that WAGGGS is on top of the Post 2015 Development agenda and we are all together doing AMAZING things in advocacy for this cause and making this world a better place. There is a lot of things going at the start of 2014 and one of them is for sure sending WAGGGS delegates on this year’s 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at UN, New York, beginning of March. Me, along with 18 other incredible talented and knowledgeable young ladies, were chosen to contribute in shaping the next policies about women issues all around the world and making sure that girls will be central to the post 2015 agenda.
CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide.
I am enthusiastic that the theme of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women is “Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls” because Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide have been very active in achieving the MDGs until 2015 and advocating for a post-2015 development agenda with girls and women at its heart.
WAGGGS already submitted our statement where we call for recognition of girls and young women as central to the new global development agenda beyond 2015. The post-2015 development agenda represents a vital opportunity to bring about a transformative change in the lives of girls and young women and their communities. We believe that truly transformation and sustainable development is only possible with full and meaningful participation of girls and young women where they are both beneficiaries of, and equal partners in, development, implementation and monitoring of the agenda.
At CSW we will urge Member States to agree the following:
1. That accelerated efforts are made and renewed commitment demonstrated to ensure girls in all parts of the world are benefiting equally in the final lap towards achievement of Millennium Development Goals in 2015. This will require addressing the structural drivers of inequalities and recognition of the interdependent nature of all MDGs, as well as adequate levels of investment in the fields of gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights.
2. That the new development agenda must leave no one behind, and acknowledge the centrality of human rights, gender equality and sustainability to any meaningful agenda.
3. That the new development agenda must address the structural barriers to gender equality through inclusion of a stand-along goal on gender equality and empowerment of girls and women with specific targets on gender-based violence, economic empowerment and equality in decision-making in both public and private domains.
4. That gender is mainstreamed throughout the new framework. Gender mainstreaming ensures the importance of gender concerns and the voices of girls and young women are recognised as central to achievement of all development goals.
5. That data must be disaggregated according to both gender and age across all goals following the recommendation from the recent report from the High-level Panel on post-2015, which points out that a 'data revolution' is needed.
6. That girls are recognized as central to the development, delivery and monitoring of the new development agenda. The new agenda must invest in girls’ leadership potential, and empower them to be the leaders and innovators of the new development framework.
7. That the new development agenda must address the key eight themes identified by girls and young women as priority areas, namely:
- attitudes, behaviour change and fair portrayal of girls and young women
- quality education
- creating safe spaces for girls
- eliminating violence, early marriage and harmful practices
- girls’ and young women's participation and leadership
- comprehensive health
- decent employment
- environment and climate change
We believe that failure to recognize girls and young women as central to any sustainable development efforts, will lead to exacerbation of existing inequalities and further social polarization. We remain committed to working with the United Nations in building the “World We Want for Girls” and for all of us.
Girl Guides Bolivia: Busting the Myths
Mirna Fernandez - Bolivia - 10/12/2013
The 16 myths that WAGGGS is busting on the 16 days of activism affect the way girls and young women feel about themselves when they have experienced violence and the way they are treated by other people.
These myths help perpetuate violence against girls and young women by making the abuser's actions seem acceptable, which stops girls from seeking help and stops others from helping.
Many of these myths are quite common in our country. There is people who may swear that violence has been addressed fairly enough. Girls who have been raped feel that the way they were dressing was one of the reasons. Men and boys are never challenged to take part on these discussions and there are many violence situations on teenager relationships and nobody talks seriously about it.
The first step towards our challenging to stop the violence against girls and young woman is to understand the reality behind the myths, enabling girl guides and their friends to come to terms with what is really happening to them and exposing violence for what it really is.
Girl guides in Bolivia are aware of how harmful myths could be, and we are working towards busting these through different activities. From formal discussions to fun games, we are preparing ourselves as vectors of social change. The big project that our girl guides came up with is to make a documentary, directed by them and having girls and young woman as protagonists.
The World we want for Girls is a world where a girl can live free, without violence situations on the next door, and where she can raise her voice and be taken seriously by the society. Help us creating this world together!
Madagascar taking action on 16 days of activism « Break the silence and bust the myths »
Tsinjo Rahaingoarivelo - Madagascar - 07/12/2013
Girl guides and girl scouts of Madagascar started the action on 23th and 24th of November, for “Mpanazava eto Madagasikara” (girl scouts) there were STV trainings for girl scouts in the District of Ambatolampy and STV session during the rangers' leaders national training. Then, « Fanilon'i Madagasikara » (girl guides), there were STV awareness sessions of girls in parts of the capital, parents and the State leaders. There were also a distribution of hygien kits for girls.
From 30th of November to 3rd of December, “Mpanazava eto Madagasikara” celebrated International Day of Volunteering with UNV and UNFPA by awareness and advocacies campaigns to fight violence against girls and women in the District of Bongatsara, through which they promoted Listening Center and Legal Advice/ Council. During the same session, they guided the target group to come and take action in these centers and especially informed them of all kinds of violence were the main points of this campaign.
For the last weekend of the 16 days of activism, to celebrate the World Day of Human Rights “Mpanazava eto Madagasikara” will set up awareness and advocacies STV campaigns in the Districts of Antohomadinika, Ambohidratrimo and Ankadikely Ilafy through games, movies and focus discussions. For “Fanilon'I Madagasikara”, the celebration will take place in the District of Toamasina and there will be mass celebration.
Erin Wicking - Australia - 06/12/2013
Volunteering For A Better World
Pippa Gardner - UK - 05/12/2013
Happy International Volunteer Day! Today is the day for celebrating all the work that volunteers do around the world to make it a better place. WAGGGS and our member organisations are largely run by volunteers, and without the concept Guiding and Scouting would cease to exist. Today is the day I want to say thank you to all those volunteers who have given me such an amazing experience during my time as a Guide in the UK and internationally!
UN Volunteers is making note of the contribution that volunteers are making to the shape of the Post-2015 agenda, and in the latest issue of their newsletter they have highlighted the work that we have been doing as Post-2015 Ambassadors within WAGGGS. You can read it for yourself here.
Take part in their campaign to raise awareness of volunteering by using the #proud2volunteer tag on social media.
Petra Stipanié - Slovenia - 04/12/2013
Take a look at these two discussions about violence against women, and including women, in the Post-2015 agenda.
Including Men and Boys
Erin Wicking - Australia - 03/12/2013
Last Monday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and as I watched the news and current affairs programs on TV I thought it was great that they had decided to feature stories on gender based violence on this day. Television segments introduced us to the sad stories of several victims and allowed us to stop and reflect on gender based violence as 'Australia's dirty little secret'. They hit us with the cold hard facts, none more sobering that the this:
"On average one woman is killed per week in Australia by a current or former partner."
We heard how, we heard why and we saw the amazing strength and courage shown by victims and their families as they sought to raise awareness of domestic and other gender based violence in Australia. A common theme throughout such coverage was the important role that men play in coordinating and promoting the 'White Ribbon Campaign'.
At the end of one such segment the television host asked the special guest (from a domestic violence support service)
"What would you like to say to the thousands of Australian women currently living in violent relationships?"
Her answer said everything:
"Well actually I'd like to say something to the thousands of men."
The idea that gender based violence is only an issue for women to discuss is a myth. The idea that men and boys are offenders and not champions is also a myth- and one which must be busted. As part of our ' Bust The Myths' campaign for the 16 Days of action against gender based violence WAGGGS has been releasing one myth per day. Day 7 saw us provided with the following message"
"Men and boys can make great champions for ending violence against girls."
In my last blog I shared with you my thoughts on how empowering girls will change our world- and now it is time for the boys! Not every man or boy is going to be a perpetrator of violence against girls and women in his lifetime. But every boy or man will be a father, a brother, a partner and therefore every boy or man can be an advocate against violence! Not only can boys and men speak out to end gender based violence but they can also act to end the destructive stereotypes which help to perpetuate the gender inequalities which lead to gender based violence.
WAGGGS recognised the important role that educating ALL youth, boys and girls, will play in stopping the violence and this is highlighted in the new 'Voices Against Violence' curriculum- a curriculum for both boys and girls.
So during these 16 days let us not forget to reach out to the males in our lives, our fathers, our brothers, our collegues and friends and to work with them to help stop the violence.
The true extent of violence against women remains hidden
Petra Stipanié - Slovenia - 02/12/2013
In European Union we have a body, which takes care of European human rights and is called, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). One of their work areas is tackling problems that emerge from gender inequalities.
In March 2014, the FRA will present the results of its survey on gender-based violence. It will be the first EU-wide survey to record the extent and nature of violence against women in the 28 EU Member States. The survey results are based on face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 42,000 women. http://fra.europa.eu/en/survey/2012/survey-gender-based-violence-against-women
This survey aims to capture women’s ‘everyday’ experiences of violence – including physical, sexual and psychological violence, harassment and stalking, by current and former partners and non-partners, in the past 12 months and since the age of 15. The survey also aims to measure experiences of violence before the age of 15, in order to have a comprehensive picture of women’s experiences over their lifetime.
The survey’s results will help inform on-going debates on EU-level action to combat violence against women – for example, through new legislation, harmonisation of existing laws or programmes to raise awareness among EU citizens. In each country, the survey will provide information relevant to the work of the police, those in the health and social care sectors and civil society organisations, helping allocate resources efficiently and improve services. For example, estimates of the number of cases of violence, the needs of victims and their perceptions of the quality of the help received may prompt reassessments of the resources available for governmental and non-governmental victim support services.
FRA is working on this issue more actively because they believe that the true extent of violence against women remains hidden. “Violence against women is a recurrent fundamental rights abuse that urgently needs to be addressed,” said FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November. “Reliable data on the extent, nature and impact of violence against women across the EU are clearly needed. The results of our forthcoming EU-wide survey should provide a solid base for appropriate solutions to effectively combat the violence that too many women currently face.”
Initial data analysis illustrates the extent of some of the problems that will be revealed in the full survey findings:
- Four in five women did not turn to any service, such as healthcare, social services, or victim support, following the most serious incidents of violence by people other than their partners. This underlines how the true extent of violence remains hidden.
- Women who sought help were most likely to turn to medical services, highlighting the need to ensure that healthcare professionals can address the needs of victims of violence.
- Two in five women were unaware of laws or political initiatives to protect them in cases of domestic violence; half were unaware of any preventative laws or initiatives.
- Over three in four women think violence against women is common in their country.
- About half of the women indicated that they had avoided public or private situations because they were afraid that they might be physically or sexually assaulted.
- Emerging forms of sexual harassment, through new technologies and media, concern young women in particular. Such forms of cyber harassment include receiving offensive and sexually explicit emails, SMS messages or social media posts.
World AIDS DAY 2013: Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections, Zero AIDS related deaths, Zero discrimination
Yvonne Akoth - Keyna - 01/12/2013
Two years ago, I was privileged to be part of a youth team that contributed in developing UNAIDS Strategy document, CrowdOutAIDS. The aim of the document was to strengthen Collaboration with a New Generation of Leaders in response to the AIDS pandemic.
To date, HIV/AIDS has continued to affect the lives of young people, particularly girls and young women from Eastern and Southern Africa. However, many young people have stood up and taken action to prevent HIV infections as wells as putting an end to stigma and discrimination.
As we commemorate the 16 Days of Activism in addition to World AIDS Day 2013, Kenya Girl Guides Association has joined the National AIDS Control Council in raising awareness on the AIDS pandemic, by partnering with Gender Based Service Providers to distribute J-Cards (Jikinge). The cards have a free hotline number 1195 that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the event of physical assault and sexual violence. Using the cards, one is able to receive immediate support after undergoing violence.
As we work towards ensuring the voices of young people, particularly girls and young women are included in the Post2015 Development Agenda, young women from Kenya Girl Guides Association will be joined by the UNAIDS Youth Adviser for Eastern and Southern Africa, Paska Kinuthia to conduct a community dialogue where they will share their own stories, find solutions and commit to action. This will be part of UNAIDS ACT2015 Initiative. They will do this to ensure HIV/AIDS remains a priority in the Post2015 Development Agenda. This will be a follow-up of the CrowdOutAIDs Strategy document that puts young people at the centre of HIV prevention, by allowing them to take charge of their future.
World AIDS Day 2013 has reminded us that we all need to join efforts to ensure HIV/AIDS becomes a thing of the past. As a Girl Guide, I commit myself to ensuring 2014 will be a year where young people in rural Kenya are actively involved in putting an end to the spread of HIV/AIDS. I will work with them and ensure their participation in various leadership platforms in their community.
“Girl Guide Trainers and Leaders should work together to impart relevant knowledge and information to girls and young women. With relevant knowledge and information, girls and young women can unite as leaders and play an active role in preventing the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus”
Margaret Nekesa Ontonga, Kenyan County Assembly Representative
(during a phone interview on 1st December 2013)
Partnerships to End Gender Based Violence in Kenya
Yvonne Akoth - Keyna - 30/11/2013
Kenya Girl Guides Association is a strategic partner in the WAGGGS Stop the Violence Campaign as well as a Key partner in rolling out the Voices against Violence Badge Curriculum. As an organization passionate about women empowerment and gender equality, we were delighted to participate in the National Launch of the 16 Days Activism on 25th November 2013 in Nairobi. The campaign dubbed 'tushirikiane na polisi kuangamiza dhuluma za kijinsia' sought to raise awareness on Sexual Gender Based Violence as a societal issue and urged members of the public to cooperate with police in fighting the vice and assisting survivors. It was a good opportunity to engage with many institutions that attended the event, as they were willing to work in partnership with the Girl Guides to stop violence against girls and young women in Kenya.
I believe it is important for KGGA to take action on violence against girls because it is the biggest organization in Kenya that focuses exclusively on empowering girls and young women to develop their fullest potential. This includes addressing obstacles that affect their overall wellbeing. KGGA engages with girls through many projects and programmes. From our programme implementation, we have learned that the low position of girls in Kenya emphasized by their social roles and economic challenges continue to put girls at risk of violence. According to the Kenya Population Data sheet 2011, 46.8 % women between the ages of 15 – 49 have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual violence committed by their spouse/partner. The Data sheet further concludes that 27.1% of women aged 15-49 have undergone Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. As an organization with more than 90 years’ experience in addressing issues affecting girls and young women, we believe we are better placed to speak out and take action against violence targeted at girls and young women in Kenya.
In order to efficiently tackle the issue of violence against girls in Kenya, Kenya Girl Guides Association has partnered with the National Gender Equality Commission (NGEC) in order to make its Stop the Violence Campaign successful all over Kenya. KGGA will continue taking action against violence targeted at girls and young women through its advocacy initiatives and awareness creation, and ensure the effective engagement of government and non-governmental institutions. This will not be limited to local level but also during regional and international events such as the upcoming World Youth Forum, 2013 where Beatrice Nyambeki and I will act as panellists during gender equality and women empowerment related sessions.
Violence Against Women and Girls Happens in My Country
Pippa Gardner – UK – 29/11/2013
One of the myths that the WAGGGS 16 Days campaign has busted so far is the thought that ‘Violence against girls doesn’t happen in my country’. That sentiment is often applied to the UK, but it’s just not true.
Today Girlguiding UK, has launched their annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey which documents the views and opinions of girls and young women in the UK on a number of areas. This year’s report has built on their findings in previous years with even more startling statistics related to sexism and violence. The report, entitled ‘Equality for Girls’, found that sexual harassment is endemic across the country with 70% of girls aged 13+ reporting experiences starting at school. 75 per cent of girls aged between 11-21 feel that sexism is so widespread in the UK that it affects the majority of aspects of their life.
60 per cent of 11-21s have had comments about their appearance shouted at them at school, while 62 per cent have been shouted or whistled at in the street. 70 per cent of girls aged 13 and over report more intrusive forms of sexual harassment at school or college, including: sexual jokes or taunts (51 per cent), seeing images of girls or women that made them uncomfortable (39 per cent), unwanted sexual attention (28 per cent) and unwanted touching (28 per cent).
This research follows on from a separate report into relationship violence, ‘Care Vs Control’, that was launched a couple of months ago. You can download that report from http://girlsattitudes.girlguiding.org.uk/pdf/2025_Care_Versus_Control.pdf
All of this research points to the fact that violence against girls and young women is a very real problem in the UK. Whilst Girlguiding UK and WAGGGS have put programmes in place to build girls’ self-esteem and help them to realise what constitutes violence and where they can turn to for help, we also need to be looking at ways we can involve men and boys in the discussions in order to achieve the societal change.
You can find out more and read the full report at http://bit.ly/GirlsAttitudes and join the discussion today on Twitter with the tag #GirlsAttitudes.
Babae Ako sa Bansang Sinilangan. (I am a woman in my motherland): The State of Women in the Philippines
Michelle Alvarea - Philippines - 28/11/2013
“Best Place in Asia for Women”
This was the banner of the Philippines, after the recently published Global Gender Gap Report 2013, which ranked the Philippines 5th place in narrowing the gender gap in the country. Yet, while the numbers can show that we have been improving in addressing gender inequality in our country, the stories of girls and women can’t deny the fact that they are at high risk in circumstances in a developing country.
In September this year, a 6-year old girl was raped in an evacuation center in Zamboanga city. There was a siege in the city by a leftist Moro Islamic group, closing businesses and operations and putting almost 100,000 people in evacuation centers. Then this month, supertyphoon Haiyan hit the central part of the Philippines, which flattened cities and displaced millions of people, and putting girls and women at a great risk.
Relatively speaking, women in the Philippines have great strides in achieving gender equality. We had two woman Presidents, we have a high girl enrolment ratio in primary school. Yet still, the nightmare of violence against women is prevalent, both in urban and rural areas.
In the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey, it revealed that one in five women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15 and one in ten women age 15-49 ever experienced sexual violence. The Philippines has a national legislation on VAW, the Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (VAWC). From January to September 2013, the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) documented a total of 11,158 violations. And these are the reported cases, what more are the stories of women silenced by fear and ignorance that they can have their voices heard.
On a positive note, the strong point of the Philippines is having a very strong policy framework in curbing violence against women. We have a number of national laws that addresses the issues of girls and women. I myself is working with the Philippine Commission on Women, the primary policy coordinating body on gender equality and women empowerment. Our government agencies have inter-agency councils on trafficking and violence against women. We have a number of local ordinances and issuances. On 2009, the Magna Carta of Women, which is dubbed as our local CEDAW, was enacted into law.
We now need to make sure that we implement laws and regulations to ensure that girls and women are protected from violence. And to supplement the government’s work, we need media to help us disseminate info, and transform the culture of women in the media. The role of the civil society is very crucial as well, as well as partners in the private sectors.
Girls and women in the grassroots level must feel that we are indeed the best place in Asia. But it will be much better, if all countries will work to ensure violence against women will no longer exist. We have rights as women, and the State has a role to make sure that our rights are fulfilled.
*The Philippine Commission on Women is now leading the 18-day Campaign on Violence against Women in the country, launched last November 25 which is the National Consciousness Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women."
Gender Based Violence in Bangladesh
Hilary Clauson - Canada - 27/11/2013
My friend’s cell phone rings. She checks the call display and hands the phone to me. I expect it to be her daughters, aged about eight and ten. They are learning English in school and their mom is happy to have me, a friend from Canada, who can speak English with them. But no, it is the number of her ex-husband. I am confused why I will be talking to him. She frantically gestures for me to say that she is not available to speak.
I answer the phone and hear a woman’s voice, speaking Bangla. I do not understand who is on the other end and what she is saying. I interject, explaining that Meena* is unable to come to the phone, and hang up. I also cannot understand the violence Meena faced, because I, thankfully but as is the right of all women, have never been in similar circumstances.
“Thank you, sister” Meena says. “My husband is a bad man, divorce long time. I don’t know why he is calling me.” Her gestures then send shocks of fear and sympathy through me and render me speechless. She mimes being slashed and being hit. Her words are disjointed and anxious, words about violence and words of thanks for what I have done – answered a call she was afraid to accept.
To me, my action was nothing in the face of the challenge of ending Gender-Based Violence. However, my time in Bangladesh – on an Aga Khan Foundation Canada International Development Fellowship – has shown me how large the crisis is and how urgent the need to take action.
The Bangladesh chapter of Zonta International, a platform of professional women and women leaders, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25) launched a 16-day campaign to end violence against women and girls. Zonta Area Director for Bangladesh Shahruk Rahman asserts that 90% of Bangladeshi women have been or will become victims of domestic violence. The campaign will include demonstrations, seminars, and discussions to raise awareness of and advance women’s political, economic, and social rights.
I hope that the next time Meena hands her cell phone to me, it will be her daughters to whom I am speaking. Daughters who will not have to fear facing gender-based violence because women and men have come together to stop what never should have been.
*Name changed to protect privacy
Fighting back against violence- its all about GIRLS!
Erin Wicking - Australia - 26/11/2013
Yesterday was the 14th United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
This Official UN Action Day was first declared on the 17th of December 1999 and was intended by the UN General Assembly to be a day where organisations and governments come together to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women. All over the world on November 25th special activities are organised to raise awareness and take action to end Gender Based Violence (GBV).
So why does the UN believe a Action Day is needed for GBV? Quite simply because physical, sexual and economic violence against women are: interrelated; affect girls and women from birth until death; are not confined to a particular culture, region or country; and harm not only families but whole communities and nations. Most importantly- and alarmingly- because up to 70% of women worldwide experience violence in their lifetime.
The United Nations believe that "The roots of violence against women lie in persistent discrimination against women."
This means that GBV, unequal power balance and women's empowerment go hand in hand. So in order to understand why GBV is so alarmingly prevalent worldwide we must also understand just what is meant by the call for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment and how this relates to GIRLS!
- Women's Empowerment is not about burning bras. It's not about beating a male colleague to the top job. It is about GIRLS!
- It's not about handing a girl a microphone and pushing her onto stage. It's about helping her stand up and practise leading her peers in a game.
- It's not about teaching her what needs to be done and sending her on her merry way to 'fix it'. It's about teaching her a new skill and then helping her to pass that skill on to other girls.
- It's not about telling her that there are girls with no rights and that she should feel 'lucky'. It's about helping her understand her own rights so that she can help others to claim these rights.
Women's Empowerment is about Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting- it is about what you do every week! It's about empowering girls to better their own lives as well as the lives of their sisters and brothers around the world. It's about the flow on effect that this empowerment will have on families, communities, nations and the world.
In a world where girls are exposed to violence, early sexualisation and inequality. Where their role models are splashed across media breaking the law and disrespecting not only others- but themselves. Where girls feel they need to match a stereotype just to be 'someone'. In this world, at this time, more than ever, girls need you!
So on this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women let us think about GIRLS. Let us acknowledge and celebrate them. Let us feel joy in the role that Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting is playing in promoting equality and tackling GBV head on. And let us act with renewed vigour to Stop The Violence and to create The World We Want For Girls post 2015.
16 Days and the Post-2015 Agenda
Petra Stipanič - Slovenia - 25/11/2013
This October the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began its discussions on the advancement of women, where they urged ‘Stand-Alone’ Status for Gender Equality, Empowerment in Post-2015. Persistent discrimination and violence against women and girls around the world was called for gender equality and empowerment to be a stand-alone target in the post-2015 development agenda. “We have one goal and that is to realize the promise of equal rights of men and women,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and new Executive Director of the United Nations Entity on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, or UN-Women. In her opening remarks, she strongly urged the protection of women’s social, economic and political rights.
Representatives of Slovenia were also part of this discussions and alongside with the representatives of the United Kingdom, European Union, Switzerland, Japan, Costa Rica, Norway, Mexico and Argentina asked questions, seeking the important Committee’s views on how to achieve universal ratification of the Convention and integrate women’s and girls’ empowerment into the post-2015 development agenda. For a lot of countries this is a big question mark and an area to research, as well an area where they lack resources, budgets and working methods. On the empowerment of women and girls, it is necessary to translate the Convention into action on the ground by expanding partnerships. For instance, a greater presence in New York on the Commission on the Status of Women would help to create partnerships and links with other entities. Those partnerships would lead to cost savings on the ground. As Slovenia is aiming to define the post-2015 development agenda, the Committee view 2014 as a decisive year for women, so my opinion is that a greater presence at certain events like CSW would help Slovenia and other countries to find a way how to strengthen and prioritize this area of work into post 2015. All in all we all strive for a strong post 2014 agenda that will take a holistic view of gender inequalities: 1) addressing girls’ completion of a quality education, 2) women’s economic empowerment, 3) universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, 4) ending violence against women and girls, 5) women’s voice, leadership and influence, 6) women’s participation in peace and security, 7) women’s contributions to environmental sustainability.
For the 16 Days campaign there will be quite a lot of events in different cities around Slovenia where the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts will also take part with their workshop on WAGGGS campaign »Stop the violence against girls and women«, where they will present some statistics and figures of violence in Slovenia and try to get across the point that most of the violence happens at home or from people we know good. In the past domestic violence against women was primarily perceived as a private problem. The last few decades, however, have witnessed an attempt to take this issue into the public sphere and recognise it as an important social and political problem. A significant role in the recognition of the problem of domestic violence against women and the introduction of political changes in Slovenia has been played, as elsewhere, by non-governmental organizations and feminist movements. In a lot of countries, including my own, the attitudes toward violence in general should be changed and stereotypes about violence shattered. In other words, »in the Slovene system of values there is a concealed tolerance of violence« what is really incredible that it happens in the 21st century. Of course in 16 days this will not change, but hopefully trough time we can change these wrong perceptions and if we put it as a priority in post 2015 we could act upon it more actively. In a lot of cases, that Guides do not how to deal with, the cause of violence is alcohol. To better deal with this problem we would definitely need training on stopping the violence that hopefully I can prepare in the near future for our leaders. My association is coeducational so I see a big advantage is this, as cooperation of boys and young man would help us to achieve changes more efficiently and for pot 2015 we have to definitely strive to this cooperation even more!
Australian Girl Guides jumped on board the celebrations for International Day of the Girl 2013!
Erin Wicking - Australia - 6th November 2013
What did we get up to?
- Youth and adults took part in IDG public events such as Plan Australia’s Victorian Symposium and Youth Team Event “Picture This: Seeing the Potential of Girls around the World”
- Units in Victoria learnt about the Day of the Girl Child through specific advocacy badges including the Change Makers: Because I am A Girl badge on conjunction with Plan Australia.
- Hundreds of Victorian Girl Guides raised awareness of Girls’ rights – particularly with access to education – by speaking out through the School’s Shout Out Challenge. You can see some of their displays and messages here.
- Across the country members participated in fundraising functions - our friends in South Australia supported work to raise funds and awareness of the need to focus on the needs of girls and women in developing countries.
- The Olave Baden Powell Society (OBPS) in Queensland is held a luncheon on with Girl Guide Leader Kate Jenkins as a guest speaker. Kate represented Girl Guiding in Australia at the Stop the Violence world event in Rwanda.
- The Region of Brisbane North ran a Region Camp for girls 11 years and older at the House of Happiness on Bribie Island and focused on the IDG and Post2015 themes in its program.
We sent a “Call to Action” to our Nation’s leaders!
As a way of contributing to this day and supporting the call from WAGGGS, Girl Guides Australia brought together other leading community and advocacy groups for girls and women. Together we issued a joint statement on International Day of the Girl Child. This call to action asked our nation’s leaders to take action to realise the potential of girls and women – at home and abroad including supporting a separate Post 2015 development goal on girls and women. The other signatories on this statement are: YWCA Australia, the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, International Women’s Development Agency and the Australian National Committee for UN Women. You can read the statement here.
We also continued to promote our petition to our national leadership asking for broad support for specific development goals for girls and women in the Post2015 Agenda. This petition can be accessed through change.org here - http://chn.ge/1fhYDWD
Australian Girl Guides thoroughly enjoyed the International Day of the Girl and look forward to continuing to fight for the rights of girls and women worldwide!
The Permanent Forum on Youth
Petra Stipanié, Slovenia
These last few days at the UN General Assembly 3rd Committee discussions with youth delegates, I have heard a lot about The Permanent Forum on Youth and as WAGGGS fully supports this idea I would like to explain more.
The 68th UNGA Resolution on Policies and Programmes on Youth could be a landmark General Assembly resolution, paving the way for the institutionalization of young people and youth issues in the UN structure through exploring possibilities of having a permanent forum on youth.
What is The Permanent Forum on Youth and why is so important?
A UN Permanent Forum on Youth is a mechanism that meaningfully provides young people with an avenue through which policy at the highest levels can be affected and the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) can be monitored. WPAY is another important document which we can use as delegates because Member states of the UN sign this document so we can hold them accountable for things mentioned in the document. It is binding so they have to follow it. This can be a very powerful advocacy tool for WAGGGS!
The UN Permanent Forum on Youth creates a permanent mechanism through which young people can be meaningfully engaged in the policy work of the United Nations. This is a departure from the current, ad hoc entities that only give youth a token opportunity to be involved in UN processes. Right now we are just clients and consultants, but this has to change. We are the biggest group of youth in history - there are currently 1.8 billion youth in the world. The UN Permanent Forum on Youth would create a platform in which young people and youth-led organisations can play a role in the creation of relevant youth policy.
A Permanent Forum on Youth would not undermine the intergovernmental nature of the UN, but rather strengthen the UN through partnership, allowing advice to flow from the Permanent Forum to ECOSOC and the General Assembly (3rd Committee) and allow for the assessment of commitments governments have made. It is similar to models that work effectively in the African Union, Council of Europe and Ibero-American Youth Organisation.
The UN should open itself up to youth. Youth should not be seen as a marketplace for UN organisations competing in “selling itself” to establish legitimacy.
Please also see the proposed structure below.
Any comment on this body would be welcome so I can forward the ideas to Youth delegates who can influence the policy papers.
An exciting journey
Petra Stipanié, Slovenia
On the 6 October I finished packing my bags and left for New York, the city where they say everything is possible to achieve. I was confident it would be great.
I was chosen as a WAGGGS delegate to the UN 3rd Committee to deliver a speech and work on the new Youth resolution with other youth delegates from all over the world.
UN 3rd Committee is the Social, Humanitarian, Cultural Affairs Committee and they work on agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect people all over the world. The Committee also discusses the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. The Committee also addresses important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.
I was there representing WAGGGS so we can see how we can actually contribute as a youth organization to the negotiations and how we as a leading movement for girls and young women can influence the resolutions adopted at the Third committee. Unfortunately NGOs can’t input much in the debates due to certain restrictions but we can advocate and lobby for our priorities through other national youth delegates and get our points across through them. So in the end, it's all about advocacy, and that is what I am trying to do. I am talking to a lot of influential people, talking to delegates so they get to know WAGGGS, what we stand for and I am trying to put my input into their discussions, especially to highlight the gender perspective. Through them we can influence agendas and policy making. It is a hard job as a lot of people have to follow the opinion of their countries and ‘’follow the budget’’, meaning that if there is money invested in discussing gender issues they will, if not, they will talk about something else because they get most of their funding from their countries.
I feel privileged to be invited to speak at the Brazilian Side Event on Strengthening Youth participation in the UN for meaningful engagement and decision-making. Some other speakers at the table (full of men) were: Ravi Karkari from UN-HABITAT, Serenne Macedo from National Youth Council of Brazil, Jerry Den Haan, a board member of the European Youth Forum, Usman A. Mushtah as a representative of Norway and others.
Most recently, the Government of Brazil and UN-Habitat and other partners have supported youth participation through promoting the establishment of new mechanisms of engagement in the UN system such as the Permanent Forum on Youth. The Permanent Forum has been advanced through declarations from the Youth 21 initiative, the Rio+20 High Level Panel on Youth, the XVI Latin American Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, and the recent Extraordinary Conference Youth Ministers and High-Level Representatives on Youth that are members of the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ).
I was there to bring a different perspective and experience, in an attempt to explore common understandings and expectations for the creation of new and meaningful mechanisms for engagement in the UN.
The speech that I made on behalf of WAGGGS was about emphasizing youth participation as a fundamental human right clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other key international documents with a particular focus on girls and young women. Therefore we stand for participation as a right for all and not just the privilege of a few. We want to influence change and be part of decision making at all levels and we want to be directly engaged.
"Over the past few years youth participation has been gaining prominence as one of the most important issues in youth work and youth policy. There has also been a significant shift from treating young people as a vulnerable group; young people are now widely recognized as active players in their communities, drivers of economic growth and leaders of democratic reforms. Still, young people’s role in decision making, and particularly the participation of girls and young women, remains limited. Yet being able to have their say and participating in the processes and decisions that affect their lives is critical to girl’s empowerment. Girls and young women must have access to a ‘seat at the table’ in development discussions at local, national and global level. This will ensure decisions being made that will affect the lives of girls and young women also include their voices and priorities, and increases the chances of gender equitable outcomes.
It is also widely recognized that participation is not an end in itself, but also a means to achieving a positive change in society. And through participation young people do contribute to this change. On the example of MDGs we have seen how a lack of participation and consultation led to a limited impact for young people and particularly girls and young women. Despite the significant successes of the MDGs, 600 million adolescent girls remain the world’s most economically vulnerable group.
Recently however, we have seen improvements in the field, with the creation of the role of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth being the key milestone; there is also a wider acknowledgment in the UN on the importance of better mechanisms of youth participation in the UN. There have also been improvement with regards to youth participation and consultation. There has been an unprecedented dialogue and consultation with young people with regards to what they want to see in the new development agenda beyond 2015, and that has been a significant move forward if compared with MDGs. Youth have been consulted during the High-Level panel on post-2015 outreach with civil society organizations, in consultations organized by the UNDP and civil society consultations. WAGGGS has done a lot regarding the inclusion of girls and young women in these debates. We have been part of High-Level panel outreach discussions and we have widely consulted with girls and young women on their priorities for the future development agenda. However how can we be confident (and I am sure I am sharing the concerns of thousands of young people and youth organizations) that their priorities and views will be taken into account and will feed into the framework that will govern our lives for the next 15 or so years to come? Therefore, meaningful participation is not only about consultation, but also about having a say in policy formulation, as well as taking over and sharing responsibility.
This explains why young people need a body such as The Permanent Forum on Youth to increase youth engagement in the UN system and ensure they have influence over decisions that affect their lives. And there is a precedent of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to show us how to proceed with this idea. There should be no barriers to achieve this. Especially because young people need it and the UN needs young people! Youth should be equally engaged in policy making and influencing the global development agenda, otherwise we believe that policies adopted cannot fully respond to the needs of young people.
We want to be taken on board but not just as clients and consultants. We need to materialise this into a sustainable mechanism where we also shape the policies. We believe it is our right to be part of shaping the agendas and to be engaged in implementing and monitoring the process. A Permanent Forum on youth would allow that. This scenario is the only scenario which truly allows a comprehensive youth engagement in the UN and it can give a space for action".
The Weeks Ahead
Pippa Gardner - UK - 16/09/2013
Tonight I am packing for my trip to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Facebook tells me other members of the delegation, who are arriving earlier and travelling further, are already preparing to depart. Together we will be representing WAGGGS, 10 million girls and young women and youth as a whole to a number of different events between the 17th and 27th September.
Mitch and Erin are setting out for the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development meeting this week. I’ll arrive just in time for the closing session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Mirna will be at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit over next weekend. Then we will all be participating in the events building up to the special event on the MDGs on the 25th where Fezile, from South Africa, will be taking part.
I also have the honour of speaking on behalf of youth, and civil society as a whole, at the first meeting of the High Level Political Forum. This is a new forum, taking over from the Commission on Sustainable Development, to talk about sustainable development in the highest level political arena. The other speakers at this opening session are heads of state and important ministers. I am nervous and excited to have 3 minutes of their attention and a very important message – we have one planet, we need to look after it, and ensure everybody can live dignified and fulfilling lives within its capabilities.
Having first learnt about the Millennium Development Goals in my secondary school geography lessons, I have since been involved in a wide range of connected projects through Guiding. It seems incredible to think I know have the opportunity to ensure that the needs of girls and young women, and youth in general, the world over, will get to be reflected in the next global development agenda.
If you’d have told the 11 year old me in those geography lessons that, one day, I would have the attention of world leaders, I wouldn’t have believed you. But to be fair I still need to pinch myself every now and again to check that I’m not imagining it all.
There will be a series of blog posts over the next 2 weeks from the members of the delegation, explaining what we are doing in New York, and giving you an insider’s view of the events taking place. They can be found here.
Do you support Gender Equality? Then Girl Guides Australia is calling for your help!
Erin Wicking - Australia - 28/08/2013
As part of Girl Guides Australia's response to The World We Want For Girls campaign we are running a petition calling on our government to support a separate post 2015 development goal to 'empower girls and women'. To help show our decision makers that Gender Equality is an important issue all over the world we are collecting signatures through an online petition. We are calling on gender equality supporters from all over the world to visit the petition, sign up and share it with their friends and family via social media. Please take 10 seconds to click for equality at http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-australian-government-and-opposition-support-post2015-un-goal-empower-girls-women-to-achieve-gender-equality Our aim is to collect as many signatures as possible by International Day of the Girl 2013 so we can help our Girl Guides take the lead in the fight for gender equality!
Girl Guides Australia is working hard to engage all our members in the Post 2015 Development Agenda my promoting the Gender Equality petition and My World survey to all our members, youth and adult. To try to catch the attention of the wider community we have started a social media campaign using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as creating our own campaign video on Youtube! We'd love you to jump on board and help us share the amazing work that Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world do to promote gender equality too. You can check out our campaign video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF79oF2Rvrg&feature=em-upload_owner and see the information hub we have started on our national website here http://www.girlguides.org.au/news-events/news-coverage/the-world-we-want-for-girls.html
We'd love to invite our Guiding and Scouting sisters to join us to shout out for gender equality. If you or your Guides/Scouts are empowered by our message please send us your own thoughts, photos, pictures or videos on the importance of gender equality! You can reach us at email@example.com or through our blog at http://girlguidesclickforchange.tumblr.com/
Girl Guides Australia Launch 'World We Want For Girls 2015' Campaign
Erin Wicking - Australia - 08/08/2013
USING TECHNOLOGY TO INVOLVE GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN ON POST 2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA IN KENYA
Beatrice Omweri - Kenya - 01/08/2013
With Kenya working towards digital technology, young people are taking advantages of the available resources and finding innovative ways to reach as many young people as possible to involve them in the Post 2015 Development agenda consultation. During an introductory young leaders training with the theme ‘Imagine more’ at the headquarters Nairobi Unit, I engaged young leaders in a session on Post 2015 Development Agenda to make them aware of the process so far.
Using their mobile phones to access the internet services, the young leaders were taking part in the MY WORLD 2015 survey. It was encouraging to see young women taking part in shaping their future and the future generations to come.
Also, the young leaders have partnered with the Organization of African Youth-Kenya in a project called Text for Change where Young people in Kenya are participating by sending text with the word POST2015 to 21222 for free and answering a few questions on their priorities as young people on the ongoing consultations on Post 2015 Development Agenda to make a better world for tomorrow. I will be talking to more young leaders in the country to take part in the consultations.
Using this technology and social media, we hope to get more young women to let their voices be heard on the future they want.
Australian Girl Guides attend Powershift Australia 2013
Erin Wicking - Australia - 24/07/2013
From July 13-15th Girl Guides Australia delegates attended our national Powershift Conference- being run by the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition. Across three day conference 6 members ranging in age from 16 - 28 years old attended a range of plenary sessions, workshops and panel discussions. We got out and about spreading the messages of WAGGGS and tweeting our views out to show other youth that Girl Guides are here to take action against climate change!
We attended sessions which included: Understanding Climate Change; Political Lobbying; Building a Campaign Strategy; Connecting using Social Media; Pulse of the Nation- what Australia is telling us; and Empowering A Movement. It was fantastic to hear from other young people and inspiring organisations and political players on how we can work effectively to bring about social change- not just on the issue of climate change.
Sami: "At Power Shift we learnt how we can make a change, such as learning how to write an opinion piece that will get published. Any avenue to empower people to make a positive difference should be embraced and we had a great time expanding on our skills to make a change for a better world."
Claire: "The Welcome Ceremony set the scene for a great event. It was fantastic to be learning from Indigenous Elders about working together through multiculturalism. I was inspired to believe that 'we have the enthusiasm, the creativity and the wisdom to create a power shift!' "
Em: "It was amazing to be surrounded by such passionate and energetic young people. Their enthusiasm and belief in a better future and determination to help the world get to it was inspirational."
Laurel: "I learnt that change is inevitable but, for us mere humans, is very difficult! Powershift showed me that we already have the strategies we need to make change possible- we can do better than just mirror movements of the past, we can use information from previous campaigns and crusades to make ours more successful."
Thanks to these great Victorian Girl Guides for joining me at Powershift. We look forward to sharing our knowledge and passion within Australian Guiding to help us build the world we want for girls post 2015!
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE MDGs – Where are we now?
Erin Wicking - Australia - 12/07/2013
ADVOCATING FOR THE MDGS
Australia is Co-Chair of the Secretary General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group. The other Co-Chair is Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. The MDG Advocacy Group is comprised of eminent persons who have each shown outstanding leadership in promoting and working toward MDG achievement. MDG Advocates include Heads of State and Government, business and political leaders, prominent academics and philanthropists. On a 2012 visit to Bali, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that her personal commitment when it comes to promoting the MDGs is “..to prioritise education and the rights of women and girls”. (November 8th 2012)
HIGHLIGHTING THE ROLE EDUCATION PLAYS IN THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY
Australia is one of ten ‘Member State Champions’ for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education Initiative- ‘Education First’. The Global Education First Initiative is led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. It gathers a broad spectrum of world leaders and advocates who all aspire to use the transformative power of education to build a better future for all. When speaking on this matter PM Julia Gillard explained her view that “.. Education is vital to prosperity for Nations and to opportunities for individuals it is the ultimate means of a civilised life for everyone.” (26th September 2012)
EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN IN THE ASIA PACIFIC
The ‘Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development’ group has been made possible by a 10 year $320 million commitment from the Australian Government. The Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative is a major 10-year initiative which aims to improve political, social and economic opportunities for women in the Pacific region. Women in the Pacific experience some of the worst levels of domestic violence and sexual assault in the world, and the region has the lowest level of female representation in Parliaments. The work of this group will also link closely with ideas surrounding democracy and effective governance.
EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE AND DEMOCRACY
Australia is one of the founding members and currently Chair of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. PM Julia Gillard made it clear that “..we also know that societies only reach their full potential if women are participating economically and politically as equals. The Asia Pacific region is loosing over USD$40 billion annually because of women’s limited access to employment opportunities.” (26th September 2012)
GLOBAL HEALTH OUTCOMES
It was announced on 26th April 2013 that Julia Gillard will co-chair the new ‘Asia Pacific Malaria Alliance’. The Australian government committed 1 million dollars to establish this alliance and pledge to advocate for accelerated progress towards the MDGs. APLMA’s role is to unite countries to invigorate the fight against malaria and to promote regional political leadership and collaboration. It will mobilise country and regional action and review progress against agreed malaria targets. On May 28th 2013 it was announced that Australia would commit $80 million over 4 years to help eradicate Polio. This contribution follows a $50 million commitment to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative from 2011 to 2014 announced by the Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011.
Now for the catch....
Recently a new Prime Minister has come to power and a Federal Election is coming later in the year! Australian Girl Guides wish to see Australia and its representatives remaining committed to the ideas of sustainable development, achievement of the MDGs and engaged in the Post 2015 development agenda. So watch this space and see how Australian Girl Guides lobby during the election campaign to promote the importance of girls and women in the Post MDG era!
Arab Countries and Post-2015
Imen Ayouni - Tunisia - 11/07/2013
All Arab states agree that human rights are a fundamental aspiration. In affirmation of this commitment all countries in the region adopted the Millennium Declaration from which the millennium development goals (MDGs) are derived.
The Arab countries have made significant progress in human development, life expectancy has raised, child and maternal mortality and illiteracy rates have fallen.
In addition to that the focus on social development issues has in some cases taken attention from other, equally important aspects of development, such as employment generation. One illustration for the effects of this prioritization is the ‘Arab spring’ of 2011. At the beginning of 2011, various Arab regimes were toppled by populations that not only asked for more democracy, but perhaps even more importantly, for good jobs and the prospect of advancement in life for their youth. Yet this turmoil took place in countries that scored very high on progress indices of the Millennium Development Goals…
Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan were among the eight best performing countries with respect to progress in the MDGs in 2010 (CGD, 2011). Their leaders at that time belonged to the Socialist International and many politicians and researchers hailed the progress in human development in the Arab world. Yet, despite this very good score on MDG progress, youth unemployment was and remained stubbornly high in these countries. Progress in achieving the MDGs is not a guarantee for broad-based social development.
Consequently several meetings and consultations took place in the region in order to develop a post 2015 framework:
-Arab Meeting Reviews MDGs Progress and Identifies Post-2015 Priorities in Amman from 3-4 March 2013:
Participants discussed progress on the Millennium Development Goals and on future Arab priorities for the post-2015 agenda at the regional workshop which was hosted by the UN Foundation and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD), in collaboration with the Columbia University Middle East Research Center and the Jordan University Center for Strategic Studies.
Participants considered five themes: education and skills, including improving curricula and making learning more applicable to the labor market; growth, including measuring economic performance beyond gross domestic product (GDP) to include decent job creation and support microfinance; inequalities, including inequalities related to education, health, housing and civic and political participation; women's empowerment and gender equality; and governance and freedom. Within each theme, participants discussed Arab-specific challenges and priorities, while also noting the cross-cutting nature of these themes.
Speaking at the event, Sima Bahous, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of Regional Bureau for Arab States, UN Development Programme (UNDP), recognized progress on MDGs related to education, health and access to sanitation in the Arab region, while noting uneven gains, including on inequalities, maternal mortality, poverty reduction and access to improved water sources. She highlighted the post-2015 agenda as an opportunity for Arab countries “to define a roadmap through our most pressing challenges and towards our most cherished opportunities” and to address Arab priority issues, including governance, human rights, inequality, productive employment, rule of law and peace and security, as well as topics such as environmental sustainability, climate change, migration and social cohesion.
-Regional Consultation on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda (14 March 2013):
The Consultative Meeting for civil society organizations in the Arab world on the development goals of the post-2015 agenda was held on March 14, 2013, at the ESCWA headquarters in Beirut. The meeting was organized by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), and funded by Norwegian People’s Aid. The meeting brought together prominent figures of civil society organizations from the Arab countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Yemen and Sudan, were present at the meeting, as well as representatives of trade union bodies, representatives from several organizations of the United Nations, and a representative from the Arab League. The meeting began with discussions concerning the foundations and pillars that must be part of the new development model for the post-2015 period, and the expected contribution of the United Nations at this crucial point. Participants focused their discussions on main issues related to recent popular revolutions in the region.
The resulting recommendations by Civil Society Organizations in the Arab Region to the post-2015 framework, tackled the conceptual framework, the process to the post 2015 and the structure of the framework. The focus was on the need to have a new citizen-centered development paradigm and to create coherence between the implemented policies and the principles of Human Rights and Democracy. The civil society claimed an inclusive implementation of the post-2015 agenda, and stressed on the necessity to elaborate and adopt national agendas based on the national priorities and the protection of the basic rights of the citizens. The participants also called for a rethinking of the global trading system to become development-oriented.
-During the World Social Forum 2013:
The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) organized a number of meetings with local and international partners, which reviewed and reconsidered new challenges facing Arab countries following the Arab Spring. Below is a highlight of the most important sessions:
A Session on the Development Models after Peoples’ Revolutions in the Arab Region:
-Session on EU Trade and Investment Agreements with Arab Countries: Hindering Policy Space for Development
-Session on challenging EU Investments: the arrival of the EBRD in Arab countries
-Session on the Expansion of Corporate Globalization in the WTO
-Session on Post-2015 framework: Ends and Means, Goals, rights and how we get there
The session was organized by ANND and Social Watch; it illustrated the main obstacles behind the failure of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 and discussed the development framework needed at the international and national levels. The speakers identified neo-liberalism (deepened liberalization) as the strategy followed in the pursuit of the MDGs, and they have asserted that such strategy treated inequality as a byproduct of growth, which was clearly visible in the high inequalities that developed and developing countries have established. In addition, they have explained that in the international financial system, national macroeconomic policies shape the way the economic system will work.
The following recommendations were put forward by the speakers:
• A need for structural transition (industrialization and agriculture) and a paradigm shift toward an economic/social system aimed at more opportunities and less economic and social inequalities.
• Developing countries must be allowed the policy space for creating their own policies without conditions from foreigner countries or IFIs.
• The role of the state as a proactive factor in development should be enhanced, as well as the dignity of the state should be restored.
• Relationship to external capital, as well as the international financial system, should be fundamentally transformed.
Arab Development Forum (10-11 April 2013):
Participants at Arab Development Forum Discuss “World We Want”
“Voices and Choices for the Development Agenda in the Arab States,” a two-day forum held in Amman, Jordan, from 10-11 April 2013, provided an opportunity for Arab civil society to discuss “the world we want.”
Participants exchanged ideas and regional priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, as a complement to the formal, intergovernmental consultations.
Participants convened in plenary and working group sessions to consider the current status and trends, and future prospects and policy orientation on: conflict prevention and social cohesion; environmental sustainability; poverty reduction, employment creation and inclusive growth; access to and quality of services such as education and health; and voice and participation. The topic of inequalities was mainstreamed throughout the sessions.
UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark recognized Arab achievements on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) while highlighting areas in which the region is lagging, such as improving access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, combating food security and hunger, and reducing child mortality. She stressed the credibility of the post-2015 agenda in the Arab region “will depend on whether development progress can be re-established across the region, on how the underlying challenges to MDG achievement are reflected in a post-2015 agenda, and on whether the agenda appears relevant to the region.”
Sima Bahous, Arab States Regional Chair, UN Development Group (UNDG), emphasized the role of civil society in driving Arab development, saying “the people in the Arab region are searching for a new path based on shared trust and vision between the citizen and the state.”
The post2015 development agenda is a big opportunity for Arab countries to formulate a global social contract seeing that traditional development aid interventions as formulated has become clearly no longer the effective response adding to the new and emerging challenges which need to be confronted in the post2015 framework.
United Nations Advocacy Meeting Brussels, 27-30 June 2013
Petra Stipanič - Slovenia - 07/07/2013
I had a really great opportunity to attend a UN Advocacy meeting in Brussels and represent WAGGGS as one of the 16 Ambassadors of Post 2015 development agenda. I learned a lot of new things on the topic of UN work and expectations of other passionate youth delegates that will be attending the UN General Assembly in October in New York.
First day in Brussels I attended a reflection on the role of young people in the next framework, as well as in the definition of the new framework in the European Parliament in cooperation with European Youth Forum. The reflection/debate was addressed »The MDGs after the MDGs....will young people be involved after 2015?«
A lot of different speakers presented their point of views and among them we also had an honour to listen to Ahmad Alhindawi, UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Youth. He stressed that MDG’s are an unfinished agenda. Now is time to see how the world has changed from 2000 and adapt to changes and think about what was not considered then but we have it now. He talked about the necessity of including global citizenship in the debates and that we need to start moving now from consultations on how to include young people to consensus, we need to start building targets, consolidations and indicators. Ahmad was happy that at least we are debating and we have disagreements because that means young people care about what is going on in the world, and if nobody disagreed and debate it would mean that nobody cares. He has the idea to set different targets: 1. Education- move from access to primary education to quality education for all. 2. Economic Empowerment- try to create new jobs with putting an importance on job innovators (inventing their own job) and entrepreneurship. 3. Under governance- youth participation, youth has to be part of decision making, youth wants to and have to influence change. He believes in young people direct engagement not just when voting every 4 years. POST 2015 IS NOT A WISH OF WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE BUT A COMMITMENT. In Ahmad’s speech it was also stressed that we need to commit to 0.7% of growth and keep that (0.7 refers to the repeated commitment of the world's governments to commit 0.7% of rich-countries' gross national product to Official Development Assistance. The UN Millennium Project's analysis indicates that 0.7% of rich world gross national income can provide enough resources to meet Millennium Development Goals, but developed countries must follow through on commitments and begin increasing ODA volumes today. If every developed country set and followed through on a timetable to reach 0.7% by 2015, the world could make dramatic progress in the fight against poverty and start on a path to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and end extreme poverty within a generation).
Another speaker's reflection that I found really interesting and inspiring was MEP from UK, Mr Cashman, part of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. In the EP he is Labour spokesperson on human rights and strong in advocating for Gay rights. I personally though that he one of the persons he could help WAGGGs in achieving our goals and mission because he really seemed engaged in women issues and wants to contribute meaningfully. He stressed out that we are privileged to be here in Brussels on this meetings and debates and not everybody will have this opportunity, so we do have to imagine for the rest that can’t be here how to change this world. We have to connect on a personal level and then we will be effective in representing all the people and their needs. He expressed that it is crucial for young people to go and vote so we can achieve changes (vote for example in national elections), read manifestos to get changes.
The strongest point I learned and as Mr. Bogaer, attaché at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Belgium pointed out is that unfortunately changes do not happen so quickly - inputs need years to be implemented in resolutions. We need a long term perspective. So whatever we do now we have to keep in mind that it will most probably not be for us but for the future generations and for the good of our planets future.
Part of our few days discussion was also dedicated to Youth 21 initiative. Youth from 15-24 of age are unique in that they are one of the largest demographic groups that has no formal mechanisms of representation within the UN system, as do other demographic groups via the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and UN Women. Nevertheless, young people globally are not only demanding to be heard but also taking positive action to advance their communities and societies. There is an urgent need, therefore, to put mechanisms in place that give youth a broader and more meaningful stake in shaping the policy and work of international agencies such as the UN.
There was a need expressed to the need to engage youth more meaningfully within the UN System and an UN Permanent Forum on Youth option would be the most comprehensive and the best option.
A UN Permanent Forum on Youth can be established based on a model of the existing UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. This Forum would have to be a member‐led process, in that it would require member states together with lead UN agencies and the SG to explore and support the establishment of the process. The Forum would have a representative’s youth drawn from a Youth Platform Assembly. The Youth Platform Assembly would be a self-selected body of representatives of youth agencies that would meet biennially to discuss and debate current youth issues, develop policy, and elect the representatives to sit in the UN Permanent Forum on Youth for the next two‐year period.
The Forum will be established in the next 2-5 years, the idea is to have a GA resolution on it. They still have to decide who could be a member, who is going to nominate them, who is going to be the chair and who is going to finance them. The debate is still open and we can write suggestions on it.
I also found useful the information that in June the General Assembly elected John William Ashe, the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, as President of its sixty-eighth session. I would like to congratulate him on his new position and hopefully WAGGGS will have a chance to talk to him in October at the GA! Following his election, the incoming President said that no undertaking, since the Organization’s founding 68 years ago, had been more fundamental than addressing the relationship “between us human beings and this planet we inhabit”. In eighteen months, the post-2015 development agenda, one of the United Nations’ most ambitious projects, would be launched. If “we are to rise to the task”, he said, the General Assembly must to be equally as bold, ambitious and collaborative. “Failure is not an option,” he stated. And I would say we all have to keep this in mind, especially that in collaboration lies the power of youth!
Overview Video of WAGGGS Involvement in Post-2015
Michelle Alvarez - Philippines - 03/07/2013
UN High Level Panel Report Discussions in Nairobi
Yvonne Akoth - Kenya - 18/06/2013
WAGGGS Ambassadors Ms. Beatrice Nyameki and Ms. Yvonne Akoth were privileged to attend the High Level Report discussions chaired by High Level Panel Member Ms. Betty Maina, in Nairobi on 6th June 2013.
Present in the meeting was Ms. Betty Maina HLP Member and Dr. Sambili Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and planning who presented Kenya’s Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in line with the Country’s post-2015 development agenda. Other key speakers included, Mr. Stefano Prato, Advisor to HLP Member Betty Maina, Ms Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso – Director African Monitor and head of CSO Secretariat on Post 2015, Ms. Etienne De Souze – MDG Policy Advisor UNDP Regional Service Centre and Mr. Irungu Houghton, former Pan African Director – OXFAM.
Ms. Betty Maina informed participants that the report shared views of many people with the aim of having a universal agenda. She further mentioned that the panel proposed transformative shifts that ensured no one is left behind. As WAGGGS Ambassadors we were keen on all the transformative shifts but especially those that focus on women empowerment, peace building and forging global partnerships for development. This will also contribute to ending violence against girls and young women.
As the discussions were running concurrently with the discussions in London, Bogota and Dhaka, participants from London mentioned that no target should be left un met with special focus on a transformative economy that ensures no one is left behind. They also mentioned that the transformative shifts should be clear but focus should be given to having a strong message on economic transformation and growth. Participants in Bogota mentioned that the specific goals for each transformative shift need to have goals which are SMART and opportunities need to be open to all. They also stressed on the need for funding and accountability. Participants in Bogota congratulated panel members for their overwhelming support and dedication. In Dhaka, participants mentioned the need to access technology.
Participants in Dhaka mentioned issues of accountability thus suggesting that the next development framework should support the idea of a centralized system thus allowing citizens to promote accountability. Other issues mentioned included Gender Division of Labor, what kind of poverty absolute or relative? Etc.
Ms. Betty Maina further mentioned that the report doesn’t include everything however it uses a language as well as a platform that looks at promoting development. She further mentioned that it promotes a transformative social-economic agenda that mentions equality as well as touching on infrastructure for the poor.
As the discussions came to a close, UNDP mentioned that in the coming few months, outreach strategies will be put in place for CSOs to come together to deliberate on. As WAGGGS Ambassadors, our focus is to ensure the voice of girls and young women is represented in these discussions. We intend to work closely with stakeholders and CSOs at country and regional to ensure the needs of girls and young women are included in the post2015 development framework.
Kenyan Youth Post-2015 Synthesis Workshop
Beatrice Omweri - Kenya - 14/06/2013
In Kenya, the government is actively including young people in the process of consultation on Post 2015 Development agenda with the Ministry of Planning and Devolution spearheading most activities together with UN agencies and youth organizations and had organized the Kenya Youth Post 2015 synthesis workshop in Nairobi which I attended.
The aim of the workshop was to bring together youth organizations in Kenya to engage, consult and have a Kenyan specific youth position that would address pertinent and key issues that affect young people and pull all the papers that have been drafted with different youth organizations with an aim to consolidate a one position paper that will be included in the Kenyan government position on the consultations.
The workshop was interactive with every youth giving their views on the Post 2015 development agenda consultations. We discussed on governance and participation, youth employment and entrepreneurship, population dynamics, water and health and lastly, climate change and environment and I got to chair the discussion on governance and participation.
By the end of the two days, we got to finalize a Youth position on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
Slovenia and the Post-2015 Agenda
Petra Stipanic - Slovenia - 05/06/2013
Slovenia believes that eradication of poverty and sustainable development goes hand in hand, that we have to talk about both topics simultaneously and with the same attention. We also agree and want dialog, cooperation, solidarity, most of all responsibility of all the countries for the successful implementation of the new framework after 2015. Slovenia is emphasising and encouraging overcoming the traditional view between North-South and urges the creation of a global universal partnership among countries in which all the countries will have the same responsibility.
We also believe that we have to make the internal politics and views between parties coherent for the proper development within the country and for achieving reasonable and meaningful solutions/proposals.
Despite the UK trying to be a global cheerleader for the MDGs and the post‐2015 agenda, the EU is unlikely to take a lead. Its new members Bulgaria,Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) have diluted its interests in international development, and with the Eurozone in crisis, concern bout the well‐being of non‐EU citizens is not a priority. Slovenia will contribute financially to make the MDG's a priority after 2015 and will help underdeveloped countries, but keeping in mind that we are not economically good standing ourselves at the moment.
On 23 June 2006 National Assembly on adopted the Act on International Development Cooperation, and two years later, on 11 July 2008, pursuant to the Law in the Resolution on International Development Cooperation of the Republic of Slovenia for the period until 2015. The resolution confirmed the international obligations of the Republic of Slovenia, the modalities for implementing development aid and formed the substantive and geographic priorities RS. In 2009, Slovenia's international development assistance 51,207,438.86 Euros, representing 0.15 per cent of GNI. What is going to happen after 2015 is not clear yet.
After gathering resources and publications written in Slovenia on the topic, I found out we are really not doing much regarding post 2015 development agenda. Most of the discussions are left for the Non profit organisations or are made through them (like Red Cross, UNICEF). They wrote or are still in the process of writing their proposals and submitting them to the parliament. They will have a debate of it at the end of June 2013, which is really late for us to do something and actively contribute. There is still a lot to do in this field. My MO is not doing much on the topic either, but after talking to some people they feel like a lot of the MDG’s are implemented in the program just not so obvious. We have to more seriously start working on this; I will try to gather a group of people so the debates in our MO can start.
Girl Guides in Bolivia and the Post-2015 Agenda
Mirna Ines Fernandez - Bolivia - 01/06/2013
Bolivia is one of the most affected countries by the economic and environmental crises. That is why the Millennium Development Goals were a milestone in our country’s political agenda. Although we are still far from reaching the goals, these have helped our government and civil society organizations to rethink a development paradigm. The post-2015 development agenda is being taken seriously by the government, but there is still a lack of participation by civil society.
It is important to say that Bolivia has a very important role to play on the post-2015 discussions. Our country is one of the 50+ countries where the UN has committed to develop pilot consultations. We had a meeting with Isabel Arauco, the UNDP focal point for Bolivia and shared the results from the consultation with vulnerable groups has ended with us. It was unfortunate to discover that girls and young woman are not considered as a vulnerable group, when we know that they are the most affected ones by threats as climate change and biodiversity loss.
Bolivia is sharing a seat with Argentina and Ecuador in the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goal’s - another part of the Post-2015 process. We want more civil society inclusion in the position that the Bolivian negotiating team will take to the UN General Assembly in September.
Trying to get involved in these processes can be tiring, but there is a much easier way to make our voices heard by the UN. It is MyWorld2015.org. This started as an online survey that is going to point out the world’s people priorities in building the basis of a post-2015 framework. But the most amazing news for us is that there will be new ways to take the survey without internet connection. This is really important for countries like ours, where less that 30% of the population has internet access. Here is where all the members of our organization come in.
Our National Girl Guides Association has been working with the Global Action Themes, based in the MDG’s, since 2010 and we are proud to say that our Girl Guides have a deep understanding of the topic. They are all excited about taking part in discussions and leading the process of sharing the UN survey.
That is why when we received the invitation to participate in the National MDG Review Summit organized on the Beyond 2015 consultations framework on May 28-29 we accepted the challenge without fear of being the only organization representing children and youth. The participants of the Summit, that represented different sectors such as NGO’s, the scientific community, indigenous peoples and more, could exchange opinions with some of us and were really surprised because they didn’t expect a girls and young women organization to have a strong opinion on this.
The Girl Guides Association of Bolivia understands the achievements and failures of the MDG’s framework, and the big challenge that the construction of a post-2015 development agenda mean for us as civil society. We are happy to take the challenge of leading the way to increase youth participation in the discussions and making sure that every voice counts through the MyWorld votes collection. There is still a lot to do, but the first steps have been taken!
Women Deliver 2013
Jessica Malordy - USA - 30/05/2013
May 28 to 30 was a busy three days for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Several thousand people descended upon the Women Deliver 3rd Global Conference, the decade's largest conference on the health and empowerment of women. There are under 1000 days left till the end of the MDGs, yet so many of them are unachieved—in no small part because women remain marginalized and disempowered.
Even as the development field recognizes the importance of removing women from the margins in order to achieve the MDGs, there has also been a gradual understanding that the world needs to reach and empower women when they are still girls. This was central: despite the name “Women Deliver,” the word heard on everyone’s lips, from panels and plenary to the exhibition and side events, wasn't “women,” but “girls.”
The other popular phrase was “post-2015.” Everyone at Women Deliver - including government officials, corporate leaders, healthcare professionals, NGO representatives, and activists, not to mention some celebrities and royalty - spoke urgently of the need to put women’s and girl’s at the forefront of the next development agenda.
The panel I found most inspiring, and most in-line with WAGGGS’ ideals and goals for the post-2015, was one of the very first plenary sessions at the conference, called “Investing in Girls.” The moderator was Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and the panel was made up of impressive and moving speakers, including Maria Eitel, President and CEO of the Nike Foundation, and Reeta Roy, the President and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation.
“Before they are women they are girls, and if we can catch girls at the critical stage of adolescence, we can solve the problems before they start.” said Maria Eitel, sharing the statistically proven fact that addressing gender inequality and its associated issues (teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality, HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, political disenfranchisement, lack of educational and economic opportunity) will also address the greatest global calamity: extreme poverty.
You may have seen a video called “The Clock is Ticking.” No surprise there— “The Clock is Ticking” is produced by The Girl Effect, which is a global movement launched by Nike and overseen by Eitel. Made up of girls’ champions who recognize girls’ unique potential to end global poverty, the Girl Effect made arguably the greatest splash at the conference overall, by installing “The Girl Tree” at the center of the exhibition hall. A multicolored, illuminated wooden tree, the Girl Tree’s leaves were made of dangling placards inscribed with the words of dozens of girls worldwide, expressing their wants and needs. “I want to be teacher,” wrote one ten-year-old from India. “What makes me angry is the fact that parents marry their daughters after class 8,” wrote a 16-year-old from Kenya, adding, “If I was the Chief Justice I would take the step of dealing with issue.” A 14-year-old from India wrote simply, “We need more equality amongst men and women.”
The Girl Tree’s placards were written by real girls in real places in the developing world; girls who were part of no program; had been, until this moment, reached by no organization; and had not, as Maria Eitel put it during the plenary, been trained in “development-speak.” Their words provide evidence that empowering girls is not only the key to global development—it is the dearest wish of girls themselves, girls world over who want more and dream of more than is currently offered them.
Maria Eitel spoke eloquently of these girls during her time on stage. “The younger girls are full of hope,” she shared. “They want to be doctors, pilots. They are full of enormous hope and aspiration. But at puberty, it shifts entirely.” The girls become conscious of barriers to their ability to succeed, particularly those due to violence and economic duress. “They are painfully aware that when the family experiences economic challenges, they will be the first to suffer,” Eitel said, describing the challenges that girls face in every region of the world: being pulled out of school, put to work, married off when they are still children. The girls understand, Eitel emphasized, that their parents are trying to protect them—“but they see that protection inhibits them from progress.”
So the girls are asking for change. In the case of the Girl Effect, The Girl Declaration was born, by compiling the shared goals and desires of the many girls who participated in the project. In many ways, the Girl Declaration is not very different from the WAGGGS’ World We Want For Girls, which also asks girls and young women to contribute their hopes and dreams and desires for the future. And the Girl Declaration includes a call to end violence against girls, just like WAGGGS’ Stop The Violence campaign. There are four other parts of the Girl Declaration, as well, followed by five principles needed to take action and achieve these goals:
The Girl Declaration Recommended Goals
1. Re-orient health systems to work for adolescent girls
2. Give adolescent girls equitable, quality education and learning
3. Eradicate child marriage, fgm/c and other harmful practice
4. Build and protect adolescent girls’ economic asset
5. Prevent and respond to all forms of violence against adolescent girls
The Girl Declaration Principles for Success:
1. INVEST EARLY AND AT KEY STAGES
2. MAKE ADOLESCENT GIRLS VISIBLE
3. BUDGET FOR ADOLESCENT GIRLS
4. DESIGN FOR ADOLESCENT GIRLS
5. ERADICATE HARMFUL SOCIAL NORMS
It is extremely notable that the Girl Tree and Girl Declaration were sourced not by simply walking up to these girls and asking, “What do you want? What do you need?” Eitel instead described a process of games and activities, and discussions through play, with questions more along the lines of, “If you were calling into a radio show, and could ask any question anonymously, what would you ask?” This process may sound very familiar to members of WAGGGS: the Girl Tree and Girl Declaration are a direct result of non-formal education.
That precise phrase was not used by Maria Eitel, but another speaker on the “Investing in Girls” plenary, Reeta Roy, explicitly endorsed non-formal education during her portion of the panel. It plays a crucial role alongside formal education, Roy said, and endows a girl with “life skills”: knowledge about her body and keeping herself healthy; knowledge about money, and budgeting, and setting goals; knowledge about options and livelihoods, and what kinds of aspirations to set her mind on. “It is also about leadership,” Roy said, “and finding your voice—finding her voice.”
Reeta Roy may as well have been speaking out of the introduction to the Girl Scout Handbook that I grew up with, and the mission and vision of WAGGGS and member organizations in every region. It is hugely thrilling to see the values of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts expressed on a global stage, and to know that there are many pushing for them to be included in the post-2015 agenda.
It was similarly thrilling to see the strong Guiding and Scouting presence at the conference, from the WAGGGS booth in the exhibition hall to the Guides and Scouts recognized by the conference as Young Leaders and the Guides and Scouts who came as independent delegates or with other groups and organizations. The closing plenary of the conference, “The Development Agenda Through a Young Person’s Lens,” featured five young activists discussing the post-2015 agenda, and youth goals and initiatives. One of the panelists specifically mentioned the Scouting movement in playing a role in not only shaping but also implementing the development agenda.
I was among the Girl Scouts present at the conference but representing another organization—in my case, the women’s reproductive health NGO for which I work. While I would have loved to spend more time with WAGGGS (I missed, for instance, the awesome flash mob that the WAGGGS delegates pulled together), I know that in my professional role, I am in many ways doing the exact work that WAGGGS prepares us to do—speaking out for the issues we believe in, and working towards a world with equal opportunity for all. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to be at Women Deliver, and add my voice to the clamor for a post-2015 agenda that advocates for the needs and wants of girls and young women.
Australia and the Post-2015 Agenda
Erin Wicking - Australia - 28/05/2013
Charged with writing a blog post on the Post 2015 Development Agenda and Australia I launched into action. I know all about the efforts within Australian Guiding to promote not only the MDGs but now the post 2015 agenda- but what is happening outside the Guiding bubble? A Quick Google search provided no answers. Following a maze of links also brought me no closer to understanding my country’s part in this important process. There were no press releases, no high panel involvement, no major education programs on where the world could turn to next post MDGs.
With an absence of Governmental examples I turned to the NGO and International Aid sector. So many amazing organisations doing fantastic work educating the community not only about poverty and the Millennium Development Goals, but also about the role they can play in reaching them. There were networks, campaigns, petitions, volunteer opportunities and projects. There were reports on the state of education, food security, women’s empowerment - but where were the initiatives, the documents, outlining the next steps?
My thoughts turned to education- were we equipping our young learners to understand the international development needs so they could take their place post 2015 and make lasting change in our world? The logical place to start was the curriculum itself. Encouragingly yes they were! Even just within my own State curriculum (VELS) the MDGs were appearing across all ages and various domains of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards from Social Education all the way through to Health and Human Development.
So I decided to change my focus. Rather than focusing on what Australia and Australians are doing to engage with the Post 2015 Agenda, I decided enquiry was needed into where Australia sits with the Millennium Development Goals. For it is not without understanding the current International Development Agenda that Australia can fully participate in discussions about what to do once the MDGs have effectively ‘expired’. The results of this research pleased me greatly and filled me with renewed confidence that my own country would appropriately play its part in future development.
My research has shown that, in recent times, apart from strongly advocating for the MDGs themself, the current focus of the Australian Government seems to be on four areas: the links between education and poverty; the empowerment of women particularly in the Asia Pacific region; fostering effective governance and promoting democracy; and working together towards global health outcomes.
So where does this place Australia in the post 2015 development agenda? My answer is, apart from sitting in waiting as an able and committed agent of global change, I am not sure! We have Girl Guides out and about promoting the My World survey and educating their communities on the issues of poverty and the importance of the MDGs. We have a government providing aid and expertise to strengthen systems and work on projects to accelerate global development. We have NGOs and Consuls leading the charge in research and on the ground projects. We are strong, able and committed – and in my next post I will endeavour tell you where we are going next!
Taking Advantage of Slacktivism for the Post-2015 Agenda
When we talk about a big UN inter-governmental process, that goes on for a number of years, and where ultimately a decision will be made that will affect the future of the whole planet, it's easy to think it'd take a lot of time, effort and prior knowledge to contribute to the discussion. But whereas the MDGs where decided behind closed doors in the UNHQ, where only the most experienced of lobbyists could even attempt to influence the negotiators, the next set of targets are almost at the opposite extreme. If you are a die-hard slacktivist (almost an oxymoron) you can have a say too.
Slacktivism is a colloquial term to describe the behaviour of taking part in advocacy campaigns, usually through the Internet, in a quick and easy way. Liking campaign Facebook pages, retweeting organisations, changing you profile picture for a time or signing online petitions all count as slacktivism. Reading this blog (you probably came to it from social media) I'd guess you are a slacktivist - even if you didn't know it before now!
Some might see the connotations of the terms as negative, as though depicting people who are only half-hearted in committing to a cause, but I think it's an incredibly positive thing. Call someone an activist and it still conjures up images of the placard waving, anti-establishment, full-time (or often a student) campaigner. However, there's a huge portion of the population who don't have the time, money, or inclination to go wandering through the streets of Westminster in any kind of weather. But they still have valid opinions about the world they want to live in - opinions that need to be heard in preparing the post-2015 agenda.
So that's why I think slacktivism is particularly useful in this case - the negotiators need to know what the population thinks, wants and needs, not just the minority with the know-how to get their ear on the floor of the UN. And the UN has created a number platforms to aid the collection of such voices.
MyWorld2015.org is the main one of these. You're asked to rank 6 priorities from a list of 16, give a little bit of demographic data and then, voila! You've helped to influence the global priorities for next development agenda. They're on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and have their own blog. They must be doing something right as over half a million people have submitted their vote already. One slacktivist to another, I think you should (if you haven't already) help nudge that figure over the 1 million mark. Go on. You know you want to.
For those of you on Twitter who want to follow this discussion, try @post2015 @beyond2015 and, of course, @myworld2015 for a start. On Facebook have a look at www.facebook.com/YouthVoicesUN and www.facebook.com/myworld2015.
USA, Girl Scouts and the Post-2015 Agenda
Jessica Malordy - USA - 23/05/2013
Though New York City is home to the United Nations Headquarters, many Americans are not aware of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Still fewer know about the current process to design a new framework for development post-2015, when the MDGs come to a close. The U.S. government is, however, working to support the post-2015 process, as is Girl Scouts USA.
For starters, in 2010, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the first of its kind by any administration. This policy outlines development priorities for the nation that align directly with the MDGs. And in his State of the Union address this year, President Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to ending extreme poverty, the first and most all-encompassing Millennium Development Goal.
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has reformed its policies to reflect President Obama’s directive and the changing global development landscape defined by the MDGs. USAID’s reforms include new emphasis on innovation, sustainability, and partnerships—between public and private institutions and international and local governments and organizations. USAID has participated in the post-2015 dialogue, and is primed to dive into the new development framework once it has been set.
It would be untruthful to say that the U.S. has shown perfect support for the MDGs or global development. USAID is the world’s largest bilateral donor of foreign aid, but many Americans have called for budget cuts in this area—often without realizing that foreign assistance comprises less than 1% of the overall United States budget. Awareness of global development—how it works, who it benefits (all of us!), and what the priorities are, and why—is definitely lacking among U.S. citizens.
Luckily, Girl Scouts USA, made up of 2.3 million American girls and young women, has made awareness of global issues a new organizational priority. The Girl Scouts Global Action Award enables Girl Scouts to develop their fullest potential as engaged and responsible global citizens by encouraging them to complete activities that work towards accomplishing the MDGs. And as the MDGs reach their end and the post-2015 process begins, GSUSA has put together a toolkit designed specifically for Girl Scouts to complete a youth consultation on the post-2015 agenda. (This is where I come in—I’ve been working hard on making this consultation Girl Scout-friendly, and incorporating WAGGGS’ World We Want For Girls and the My World Survey.)
One of GSUSA’s most famous alumnae is Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State. The first to utter the words, “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights,” Clinton created from scratch the position of Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, and put women and girls at the front and center of U.S. foreign policy. With a generation of American Girl Scouts coming up behind her, armed with knowledge of the MDGs and prepared to participate in the post-2015 process, Hillary Clinton will not be the last Girl Scout to take the global stage and push for progress for girls and young women worldwide. I know I’m excited to be one of them!
What's Happening in Nigeria?
Edith Chukwu - Nigeria - 22/05/2013
With less than three years to the deadlines for achieving the MDGs, the United Nations and State Parties to the Millennium Declaration are putting various processes in place to evolve a successor framework which will reflect the views of people across divides and offer solutions to current and emerging development challenges.
At the international level, the Secretary-General established a Post-2015 UN Task Team, co-chaired by the Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). The UN is also conducting a series of thematic consultations with partners. At national level, there will be consultations aimed at gathering public opinions on the shape of the successor framework to the MDGs.
In the Nigeria, Campaign2015+ International in collaboration with Beyond 2015 is facilitating the National Consultations on a zonal basis prior to the national forum planned for 2013. Also the UN, Government of Nigeria and other stakeholders have developed a National Consultation Plan to guide the mobilization of stakeholders to contribute to discussions reviewing the MDGs, and towards framing a successor framework. The consultations will seek the views of State and Local Governments, Labour/Trade Unions, Youths, Women, Faith-Based Organizations, Community Based Organizations, universities and research institutions, Traders, Lawmakers, Policy-Makers, Non-Governmental Organizations, Farmers, Organized Private Sector, Media, People with Disabilities (PWDs), Children, the less privileged, the marginalized and the vulnerable groups, in order to make inputs on the kind of development agenda that will enhance the status of the poor and promote effective national growth and improved living conditions.
But so far, there has being three major consultations bringing all these people together.
- National consultations
- Civil society consultations and
- Youth consultations.
These consultations revolve around the following themes
Inequalities, Health, Growth and Employment, Governance, Water, Food Security and Nutrition, Population Dynamics, Education, Conflict and Fragility, Environmental Sustainability and Energy.
On the MyWorld survey, there has been a lot of work done by the post-2015 groups in Nigeria; they have also got a great idea to meet young people at the National Youth Service Corps Orientation camps around the country to add their voice or their thought to the survey. There is also a Facebook page where youth interact. (Nigeria Voices: Post2015 Development Agenda).
Within my Guiding Association, I have discovered that most Guides don’t even know what we are talking about, so I am trying to create an awareness on what the post-2015 agenda is all about and what has been done around the world.
During the civil society consultation, I was invited by the organizers in my country which I met at the London HLP Meeting. At the moment to call for a national programme for my Guiding Association will cost me much but I am planning to start with our National Youth Forum by talking and discussing with them about post-2015 and the MyWorld survey to add their voice. Also I am planning to set up a Facebook page and invite as many as I can in my Guiding Association, as well as to write to my chief commissioner and explain to her what WAGGGS is doing on post-2015.
The UK and the Post-2015 Agenda
Pippa Gardner - UK - 21/05/2013
With David Cameron being one of the three co-chairs of the High Level Panel who have been looking at the potential avenues possible in a development agenda for after 2015, the UK has featured quite heavily in activities to date.
I was at the High Level Panel meeting, in London, at the start of November 2012. We convened as a group of 25ish young people (including 4 WAGGGS and 1 WOSM young women) on the day before the Civil Society Outreach Day (which took place after the actual HLP meeting in London). We were allocated an hour and a half roundtable discussion where we presented statements followed by table based discussions with some of the panel members. We tried to focus on the outside the box ideas and youth lead approaches that had worked in some contexts and could be scaled up to be thought about globally.
On our agenda were education, health – Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Services in particular – employment. The theme of the meeting was household poverty so all of these kind of fitted within that. After the youth roundtables there was a town hall meeting style session where people from the panel said some things, we got to make remarks on the theme, and they gave us a few responses. I stood up to say that gender equality, and particularly women’s rights, needs to be insured in the agenda. And a few others from the youth stakeholders also managed to get to make statements. On my way out of the building after the sessions someone who works for the UK Department for International Development (who organised the London meeting) told me he thought the youth session and participants had been the most engaging and productive part of the day, and was thoroughly supportive of the idea of youth being involved in the rest of the process.
What was the impact of this meeting? I think it was the inspiration to include youth more in the process over the following months.
After that some UK youth from various organisations - as well as the employees of big development charities based in the UK - have been at High Level Panel meetings in Monrovia and Bali.UK organisations have been heavily involved in the Beyond2015 campaign, as well as specific groups for young people like the Beyond2015 Children and Youth Working Group and the Major Group on Children and Youth.
But what about the involvement of the wider public? Other than bits and pieces of media coverage in the international pages of some of our bigger newspapers and online news sites (Guardian and BBC in particular), there's been no real effort that I've seen to involve a cross section of the UK population. People don't see what 'development' has to do with them - even though the UK still doesn't achieve all the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals!
So what do I want to do? My plans that I would like to undertake within and beyond guiding in my country are: to get more people to vote in the MyWorld survey - you can go and vote here: http://www.myworld2015.org/?partner=WAGGGS; to get people to realise (at least within guiding) that when we talk about development, we are calling for positive social change in the UK too; and to develop the skills of my peers to speak out on the issues that matter to them. I believe that only by giving young people the necessary training to know how to advocate, can we expect us to become fully active in the political process.
I'll keep you posted on how I get on.