"I want to take a lead in showing the world the role girls and women have to play"

Germaine, Rwanda, reflects on being a voice for the voiceless at CSW 60

032016_CSW60_Germaine doing an interview"It is now a week that I am back to Rwanda from New York where I was attending the 60th UN Commission on Status of Women (CSW60) as part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ delegation. This was a huge opportunity for me; not only was it my first time at CSW but it was also my first ever conference dedicated to girls and women only. Representing more than 10 million girls and young women helped me to realise how lucky I am to get an opportunity to speak out. It has also made me think of more different ways I could make sure the voices of all other voiceless girls are heard. 

An inspiring delegation

I was so inspired by how everyone in the delegation was so committed to letting the world know about the issues concerning the girls and young women we were representing at CSW60.  By doing our best we used all opportunities we were given to make sure not only women but also “GIRLS” were recognised in the agreed conclusions (the conference’s outcome document), we challenged ourselves to meet as many governmental delegates and decision-makers as we could and showed them how important it is to specifically consider girls and young women in this process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I’m happy to say we made it! That is the very good side of the Girl Guiding movement that I like; once we are committed, things are always done. 

Non-formal education should be recognised

032016_CSW60_Audience member at Free Being Me event asking questionDuring CSW60 we also shared with the world why non-formal education matters and why it is important that it is recognized in the agreed conclusions. By presenting concrete examples we tried to make every person we met understand why the world really needs non-formal education to reach Goal 5 (gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls) and to empower girls and women in general to enable them to contribute to the SDGs. Through events, interviews and various conversations we have been able to share what is happening in our communities. Through role plays and presentations during our Free Being Me event, and through UN Women Media Interviews, I felt proud to share the change that Free Being Me and the Voices against Violence curriculum are bringing to the Rwandan community, the role of girls and women in tackling climate change and how through non-formal education Rwanda Girl Guides are really empowering girls, and involving boys, to create a better world for themselves and for others.

A life-changing opportunity 

032016_CSW60_Germaine with Global Goals bagI can’t be thankful enough to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for the great opportunities they give to girls to share their concerns during such high level events. I am personally grateful that through the support of the movement I have been able to bring forward not only issues concerning Girl Guides but also issues concerning Rwandan girls and women in general, as I was fortunate enough to be given a place within the official Rwandan Government delegation. This was a lifetime experience for me because it is not a usual opportunity for girls and young women from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Rwanda to be part of the governmental delegation, especially for such an important conference. I felt, and I keep feeling, very proud that I was able to share with my country’s decision makers the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts' key message for CSW60 and speak from personal experience and insight about the realities facing girls in Rwanda, as someone who works so closely with girls on a grassroots level. I really did have expertise that the government didn’t have and they wanted to take advantage of that.

I am so determined to keep on being an advocate for girls, making sure their voices are taken into account, including in the reports I am making for my Member Organization and for my government. Through existing programmes and a new small project I will soon be creating, I plan to share my experience from CSW60 and take a lead on showing the world the role girls and women have to play in achieving the world’s new agenda by 2030." 

Germaine, Rwanda 

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