Blog Entry - Sonja Astfalck, WAGGGS representative at the UN General Assembly

Sonja AstfalckWAGGGS was a respected representative of girls and young at this year’s United Nations’ General Assembly in New York, which started on 3 October 2011, and we’re very proud of this! Plunge into our experiences in the negotiations…

I’m very proud of having been selected as WAGGGS special representative at this year’s UN GA. For 17 years as now, I’ve been engaging with WAGGGS, starting with being a brownie at the age of 7, and ending with leading more than 200 Swiss scouts. Not least because of this profound experience in youth empowerment, I was elected as Switzerland’s Youth Delegate in 2009. That was also the time when I met WAGGGS for the first time at the international level, more precisely at the UN Alliance of Civilizations Conference, and since we’ve built up a close collaboration. I’m very delighted that I was able to carry on my zeal for WAGGGS’s international engagement at this year’s UN GA. It’s clear that I gave my very best to live up to this role. Whereas I was actively trying to influence the first week of the negotiations, Bernadette took over in the second week.

In close collaboration with Falko from the European Youth Forum, we actively assisted in the coordination of around 25 national youth delegates to the UN GA. Not only did we fulfil a coordinative role, but also contributed with wording for the text regarding the recognition of girls and young women as crucial stakeholders in times of crisis, as well as the promotion formal and non-formal education.

Furthermore, we hosted a workshop on Beyond 2015. The youth delegates’ suggestions for solutions were truly unique! The most memorable exercise – carried out in a non-formal way of course – was an imaginary dinner 2050. Every youth delegate – dubbed accordingly Prime Minister, Excellency, first lady or president – had to drink a toast to its own country for an outstanding achievement in terms of the MDGs, and then toast another country for its effort & success. We can assure you, if all of this year’s youth delegates will be heads of states by 2050, we not only made a small but immense difference! By sharpening of youth delegates’ awareness for the promotion of a post-MDG agenda we obviously pursued larger objectives. Our ultimate hope is that training youth delegates up as messengers for a post-MDG agenda will have a larger impact also in all the respective national delegations and beyond.

We'll keep you updated on the progress at the UN GA 2011 - stay tuned!