Jade attended the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Global Gathering in Nepal in November 2019. Here, she talks about her experiences at the event and about what it means to be a GPN advocate.
Having been a Girl Scout for a little over 13 years now, the Girl Scouting/Guiding Movement has taught girls like me to maximise every opportunity where we can make the world even just a tad bit better that what it was yesterday. Girl Scouting/Guiding taught us to never bite our tongues if our words can make a difference and to never pass up a chance to take action where we can.
Since last year, I have been fortunate enough to be one of the 13 Global Youth Leaders of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement of the United Nations through which I was able to attend and speak in several global gatherings. I am also able to run my own advocacy campaign in the Philippines and support the Girl Powered Nutrition Programme of WAGGGS and Nutrition International.
SUN Movement Global Gathering, Nepal
My most recent global engagement was participating as a youth leader in the 2019 SUN Movement Global Gathering in Kathmandu, Nepal. The gathering is a flagship event of the SUN Movement which brings together UN Government Focal Points and representatives of their partners from civil society, donor, United Nations agencies, private sector partners, academia, media, parliamentarians and others.
The highlight of the gathering for me was when I was able to sit as a panellist on the session “Productive not just reproductive! The power of gender equality to scale up nutrition” which focuses on the role of gender in nutrition. It was quite daunting to sit alongside individuals who were experts in their respective fields and to speak in front of an audience who have years of experience, but I was determined to use my voice to highlight adolescent girls’ nutrition and emphasise the involvement of girls and young people in nutrition.
It starts with youth
Being the only youth leader in the panel, I was asked on how governments and NGOs can better collaborate with youth to harness their power. Speaking from the experiences I have had through the years working on different advocacy areas, I highlighted three main ways in which organisations can start or strengthen their relationship with young people.
I first talked about the need to give young people a seat at the table. In all my years as a Girl Scout, I have always appreciated how the movement makes it a point to involve girls in the decision-making process, and I have seen the positive impact of this first hand. Having a youth voice in an organisation can only reap benefits. However, in line with giving young people a seat the table comes the responsibility of providing a safe space where they can freely share their ideas and opinions.
Second, I stressed how sometimes all organisations have to do is simply to ask young people what they need, instead of assuming the ways they could help. There is a need to bridge the gap and address the mismatch between what young people need and what organisations are offering.
Lastly, I emphasised the need to believe in young people. If being a part of the Girl Scouting Movement and Youth Leaders for Nutrition Programme has taught me anything, it is the importance of believing in what young people can do. It has never been easy to speak out and take action as a young person that is why the belief and support of other people goes a long way.
In general, what really needs to happen is to have a change in mindset. Instead of looking at young people as beneficiaries, they need to be viewed more as resources or as partners. I felt a different sense of fulfilment after the panel when people approached me and asked me questions on how to improve their organisations’ relations with young people.
During the gathering I was able to meet nutrition champions from different fields, learn about what countries are doing to address various nutrition related issues, emphasise the need to involve young people, highlight adolescent girls’ nutrition, talk about my own advocacy campaign and promote the Girl Powered Nutrition Programme.
The Girl Scouting Movement has empowered and equipped me to be able to effect change and I am only one of the many who are taking action on different issues that concern girls and young women.