Youth Forum at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC - Emily Rodriguez

WAGGGS youth delegates participated in the Youth Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations in New York City from 1-2 February.

Emily RodriguezThis year’s theme was: “Youth Taking Action to Implement the 2030 Agenda.” Four youth delegates represented WAGGGS: Jen Caplan (USA), Kristen Grennan (USA), Maria Paz Hermosilla (Chile), and Emily Rodriguez (USA). These four young women are volunteers with the WAGGGS United Nations Team based in New York. WAGGGS' Head of Advocacy, Gabriella Pinto supported the youth delegates at the Forum. 

The ECOSOC Youth Forum brings young leaders from around the world to the UN Headquarters in New York each year. It is a platform for youth to engage in dialogue with Member States and contribute to policy formulation on global economic, social and environmental issues. The Forum discussed ways in which young people can play an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It addressed how youth can best communicate on the Agenda, bringing on board the innovative use of social media and communication tools.

Adopted by UN Member States in September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet, peace, and prosperity. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address global issues including hunger, poverty, and gender inequality. It is essential that all people — young and not-so-young, girls and boys, parents and their children — learn about the goals so that they can be a part of this process and work towards a better world for their fellow citizens and the world.

During the two-day event, WAGGGS youth delegates participated in plenary meetings, spoke up and asked questions during breakout sessions, and shared best practices during side-events. The Forum provided a space for learning from Member State representatives, youth delegates from around the world, and UN agencies through interactive discussions. During his opening address, UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi stated, “We need more investment in women and girls.” Many others echoed commitments to gender equality throughout the conference.

One of the thematic panels addressed the topic, “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” WAGGGS Head of Advocacy, Gabriella Pinto, spoke on the panel.

Asked to speak about fostering young women’s leadership, she described WAGGGS’ approach, giving examples from our global programmes – including the Global Action Theme, Free Being Me, and Voices Against Violence – of how WAGGGS equips young women with the knowledge, the skills, and the confidence to be leaders and agents of change in their communities. In a side event with other international youth organizations, Ravi Karkara of UN Women also highlighted the Voices Against Violence curriculum as a powerful tool to empower young women to stand up and take action.

The Forum concluded with a Youth Statement with nine key messages and recommendations, expressing the urgency of addressing youth issues together. The key messages and recommendations include: investing in and promoting youth entrepreneurship; promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and engaging youth in processes to achieve peaceful and inclusive societies.

Check out the WAGGGS delegates’ reflections on their experiences: 

“The ECOSOC Youth Forum gave WAGGGS the opportunity to have interactive discussions with youth and advocates for youth on the issues young women and girls face today. The wide range of attendees fed a diverse dialogue on what youth are doing in their communities, and how they can take these initiatives to further youth involvement in the Sustainable Development Goals." - Jen Caplan

“What's powerful about the ECOSOC Youth Forum is the opportunity to share your views and have them heard. Sitting next to the Education Minister of Bulgaria or getting into focus groups to discuss SDGs indicators and gender is not something young people get to do often. But the ECOSOC Youth Forum does just that. This year's Forum was truly a testament to the UN's commitment to engaging youth voices.” - Kristen Grennan

"The Forum allowed us to share with world leaders and other nonprofits WAGGGS' opinion on the implementation of the global goals. We believe there should be more investment in girls and young women because they are disadvantaged in many areas, and that while the monitoring progress, data should be disaggregated to capture girls' experiences in the process." - Maria Paz Hermosilla

“It was inspiring to learn about youth-led entrepreneurship and the UN’s new initiative to tackle youth unemployment. I particularly enjoyed the breakout session on climate change. I found it meaningful to share my own experiences mentoring high school girls in my community, who are leading projects to address local problems. Implementing solutions on all levels is what the SDGs are all about. We all have a stake in the future of our planet.” - Emily Rodriguez

The team captured some highlights of the event live on Twitter @WAGGGSDelegates; the Youth Forum’s hashtag was #Youth2030. The program was recorded on UN Web TV:

You can check out more information on the ECOSOC Youth Forum on the UN website:

- Emily Rodriguez, WAGGGS UN Team in New York 

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