Delegates in New York
"I believe gender equality can be achieved within my lifetime."
Aisling O’Boyle, 21, Ireland
Walking into my local Brownie hall at six-years-old I never imagined Guiding would lead me to sledding in the Swiss Alps, exploring India, visiting friends in Ontario and Virginia and speaking before the Irish government.
At 18 I started a new Guide Unit for girls aged 10-14. Over the last four years I have watched them grow in confidence and develop their own opinions. Their stories of gender discrimination are one of the key factors motivating me to take part in CSW62.
By pushing girls out of their comfort zone Guiding shows girls that they can no longer be ascribed to particular professions and societal roles.
Personally, my participation in the 2012 Girls’ World Forum on the Millennium Development Goals inspired me to study political science and geography at Trinity College, Dublin. During my time at university I have studied theories of justice, development, representation and international relations, which I am excited to apply in a real-world context.
I believe gender equality can be achieved within my lifetime. But it will not just happen; it must be driven and directed. This process begins with empowering girls and young women by investing in education and providing them with an outlet to form opinions and develop confidence. I experienced how powerful this is when running advocacy activities for 1000 girls at Irish Girl Guides’ international camp this summer.
As a WAGGGS remote delegate for the UN Climate Change Conference COP 21 I observed the ability of our movement to effectively advocate for global change. By highlighting girls’ concerns on issues including education, violence against women and the lack of women in senior leadership positions, we can ensure that girls’ voices are reflected in policy.
"My voice is valuable and I am responsible for bringing about change."
Ankita Saigal, 20, Malaysia
One chance meeting when I was 15 sparked my passion for championing girls’ and women’s rights.
A family friend had employed a 17-year-old domestic helper; this bothered me and I began asking about her life. To educate her brother, her family pulled her out of school and sent her to work in the city. The other option for girls in her village was marriage.
I had read about these stories, but seeing and hearing it first-hand was different. I was shocked. I wanted to help, but I had no idea what to do.
Some people would justify this by saying they are helping the young person; they are treated well and would be working somewhere else anyway. But it’s not justifiable. It is a violation of human rights.
Five years later I wish I had the courage, given to me by Guiding, which I have now, to speak to her employers. I have realised my voice is valuable and I am responsible for bringing about change.
Growing up I could not pinpoint anything I was truly passionate about. But now I can confidently say there’s nothing I am more driven by than empowering women, young girls and gender equality. I’ve realised for change to happen, I have to play my part in being the change.
I have completed Stop the Violence training in Malaysia and activate training in Our Chalet which also ignited a passion to end violence against girls and women. In 2017, I attended the UN Human Right Council in UN Geneva and I am proud to represent 10 million girls at CSW62.
"We show girls they can create any future they choose."
Emma Guthrie, 26, United Kingdom
Twenty years ago I joined Girlguiding.
As a Brownie I tried horse riding, went skiing as a Guide, then sat in the United Nations for the opening of CSW61 as a Senior Section member.
Throughout my life Guiding has been a constant - supporting, motivating and challenging me.
Guiding has helped me further my career as a solicitor; it has given me the chance to do things I would never have been able to do otherwise and the ability to empower girls and young women.
The organisation gave me a safe space and opportunity to try new adventures. It has also provided a space to speak up and create real change. I really enjoyed my time at CSW last year. It gives organisations like WAGGGS the chance to connect with, and influence governments. These organisations are working on the ground, in touch with the real issues facing gender equality.
The organisation also has the ability to access girls and women across the world in different, often isolated, communities with many challenges. I have seen this within some of the islands and rural areas in Scotland. Our organisation’s model of local people running local units means we can provide resources and opportunities to girls in communities which other organisations can’t reach. We show girls they can create any future they choose.
I know the amazing ability Girl Guide and Girl Scout organisations have to change the lives of girls and young women. We can add great value to CSW62 and I am excited to make the most of this opportunity.
"My goal in life is to make a positive difference in the world."
Hannah Sanderson, 19, United Kingdom
Together we can make gender equality a reality. I began Girl Guiding as a very shy 5-year-old but Guiding shaped me into a strong and independent young woman.
I’m truly honoured to be a member of the WAGGGS delegation to CSW, proudly representing 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide.
I now lead a group of 7 to 10-year-old Brownies. Becoming a leader has been the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m so proud to be able to give something back to my local community and contribute to developing the confidence of young girls and helping them shine. It’s amazing to see 7-year-olds join as young, shy Brownies, then leave as confident 10-year-olds, unafraid to speak out and make change.
Achieving gender equality and the sustainable development goals is a huge undertaking; however it’s something I’m extremely passionate about. I want to be able to put young people at the forefront of discussions and make sure all voices are heard.
Being a part of WAGGGS enables girls to reach their full potential and gives them the tools to face anything life throws at them. Going to CSW with WAGGGS is a chance to show world leaders what can be achieved when girls and women are empowered.
My goal in life is to make a positive difference in the world, which to me means achieving gender equality, to be a voice for girls and women everywhere and to be an inspiration to my Brownies.
I want to show them they can overcome all obstacles in their way and have the courage to stand up for what they believe in.
"We join forces through guiding with the aim to improve equality."
Helga Mutasingwa M.D., 27, Tanzania
I am a member of the Tanzania Girl Guide Association (TGGA), a medical doctor and Juliette Low Seminar Alumni.
Being a WAGGGS Delegate for CSW62 is a great opportunity to provide views, opinions and suggestions to policy makers on behalf of girls from all around the world.
I have experience in hospital settings with a range of different conditions present themselves. From women injured after being beaten by their spouses, miscarriages, girls abused by their relatives, malnourished girls and women, maternal mortality and child mortality.
Seeing these problems and having the CSW62 platform to talk about them, while seeking support and prevention, is a great honor.
We join forces through guiding with the aim to improve equality and make sure the mortality rate is reduced.
Prevention is better than cure. Finding ways to avoid violence, seek support and access a balanced diet are some of the best ways to reduce preventable causes of mortality among girls and women.
We are providing a voice, we are supporting the implementation and we applauding the efforts of our partners to support gender equality progress.
"I was passionate about the spirit of teamwork which comes with the Movement."
Henda Maarfi, 28, Tunisia
My Girl Scout journey began at an early age.
I was passionate about scouting activities, non-formal education along with the spirit of teamwork which comes with the Movement.
Since my first day of scouting, when I was just six-years-old, I enjoyed progressing through all the stages starting as a brownie, then a guide, rover and finally become a leader.
Over these years my knowledge has grown and my desire to contribute has also increased.
This devotion to share and engage more girls has allowed me to become the International Commissioner of Les Scouts Tunisiens, a position I have held since 2015.
My involvement with the Girl Scout movement has opened doors for me to be a panelist at the International Day of the Girl Child in Washington DC, America.
It gave me the opportunity to take part in the Civil Society Institutional Strengthening and Inclusive Development project at World Learning organisation where I worked on developing global snapshots for minorities and women.
Activities organised by Les Scouts Tunisiens offered me the chance to participate in different national, regional and international events where women and girls rights were the focus.
These included CSW59 and the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Alongside this I am also working for a German foundation called Friedrich Ebert where I work closely with Trade Unionist and social movements to promote equal economic, social, political opportunities and a dynamic, strong democracy.
I have a Master Degree in marketing and management from the High Institute of Management of Tunis and completed the Leaders for Democracy Fellowship at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
"My main goal; to help every girl to develop their full potential."
Ines Gonçalves, 22, Portugal
When I was seven-years-old I heard about a group of girls who gathered every Saturday.
I asked my parents if I could go and they took me to my first Girl Guide meeting. It sounds very cliché but, on that day, I found something which revolutionised my whole life.
I had no idea this Movement would become such an important part of my education, my beliefs and the way I see the world.
Girlguiding has also brought me the most pure, strong and precious friendships. Nothing can bring a group of people closer together than camping; laughing until your stomach hurts and staring up at stars from a campfire.
These friendships also helped bring me to CSW62. I will have the immense privilege to attend this event after winning the U-report competition, by recruiting the most girls to join the Unicef and WAGGGS platform. I could only win with the support of my guiding sisters who helped me recruit 1085 girls.
At CSW62 my main goal is to represent the Girlguiding mission; to help every girl and young women to develop their full potential.
It is a very powerful statement, but can you imagine if this happened for every girl? I do! I saw this happen to me and now I want every girl, no matter of her age, nationality or social condition, to have the same opportunities to become whatever she wants to be.
"We must believe in ourselves and go face our fears."
Lena Maria Rojas Segura, 25, Costa Rica
My great adventure with Girl Guiding started when I was 21-years-old. I had no idea what was I getting into.
Now 25, I’m one the volunteers at Asociación de Guías y Scouts de Costa Rica and in the final year of a social work degree.
I have taken part in a number of projects related to violence against women and children. I’m also a guiding leader of a 7 to 10-year-old group called “Manada” in Spanish.
During 2016 I joined Costa Rica’s Stop The Violence team. I believe the strongest element of the project is education, not just for girls and women, but also for men and boys.
It’s a change that must involve all of us.
I clearly remember how shy I used to be before I joined Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. Since then I have become a better person who is more confident, happy, passionate and no longer fearful when it comes to speaking up for myself and others.
I am also thankful for the amazing support and love shown by my family and friends. They have pushed me to never surrender on the way to achieving my dreams.
Representing WAGGGS at CSW was a big dream for me. We will be addressing important topics, particularly highlighting the difficult situation of so many girls and women in rural areas and looking for solutions.
We need more women and young girls in leadership positions and events. They are capable and deserving. Sometimes we are our greatest barriers to achieving what we want. But we must believe in ourselves and go face our fears.
"Girlguiding has inspired me to be fearless."
Lucia Scandalo, 22, Argentina
I joined the Movement when I was six-years-old and can confidently say Guiding is my passion. I am now a psychology student and this course of study has taught how me to be inquiring about everything. This has made me question gender roles and the position of women.
Another important motivation when applying for a role as part of the WAGGGS CSW62 delegation is the missionary group I am part of. We collaborate with a rural community in the province of Santiago del Estero, a hamlet which is isolated without easy access to services including electricity, clean water, education and healthcare.
I admire the people I met there, they are strong and resilient. But they shouldn't have so many obstacles. There are so many things which could be done to improve their quality of life. I think the first step is to give them a voice, which is one of the reasons I´m proud to participate in CSW62.
There are many women in my life who have inspired me and shown me I can achieve whatever I want, as long I’m dedicated and persevere.
One of my most influential Girlguiding experiences was the time I spent as a volunteer in Our Chalet in Switzerland. There I not only learnt new skills but also met many wonderful women, passionate about guiding and determined to make their voices heard.
These empowered women are the reason why I´m now brave enough to raise my voice and take action.
"I believe in empowering girls to realise their rights and achieve anything they set their minds to."
Lucy Christiana Agyeman, 29, Ghana
Before I became a guide I was very shy, with low self-esteem.
Guiding gave me the space and opportunity to develop and grow. I learnt to speak out, with the Movement providing a platform for girls to have a voice on issues concerning them, including child trafficking, violence against women and children, body confidence and leadership.
Since I became a guide my family and colleagues have become great supporters. They see the positive changes it has made for me personally, spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially.
I am an adult leader in the Ghana Girl Guides Association with over 100 girls in my unit and a Public Relations Commissioner. I motivate the girls in my unit and enjoy watching them grow to become leaders.
CSW62 will provide a giant platform and opportunity for me to advocate for girls and young women. It is a privilege to represent 10 million voices, be part of decision makers, empower myself and make sure that no one is left behind.
As a remote delegate for CSW61 I learnt about issues effecting girls and young women and how the United Nations is collaborating with WAGGGS to make the world a better place.
I’m excited to be part of the team attending CSW62 and will be the delegate coordinator for the Communications working group. I am passionate about empowering young women and girls, especially those in rural communities. Having worked with girls from Anyaman, a rural Ghanaian community, I believe in empowering girls to realise their rights and achieve anything they set their minds to.
"Advocating for women and girls has become a thing of joy for me."
Praise Adeyemo, 22, Nigeria
“At your age and status, you still wear a uniform and belong to Girl Guides?” is the typical question I’m asked when someone sees me in my Guide uniform.
Initially I wasn’t comfortable wearing it either. I had been the only Guide for most of my high school and university years. But I’m no longer embarrassed.
I’ve got a scar on my left thigh which serves as a constant reminder of the price you may have to pay as a leader. During my fifth year at university I served as my school’s Hall of Residence Mayor. I intervened during an incident while everyone else stood back and was bitten by a fellow student.
For six and a half weeks I dressed the wound. The major lesson this taught me was as a leader you should always do the right thing, no matter the consequences.
I am currently in my final year of Veterinary Medicine at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. I hold a certificate in Project Management, have served as a Brand Ambassador for She Leads Africa and was trained as a Young Peacebuilder by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisation.
Representing and advocating for women and girls has become a thing of joy for me. I come from a rural community and can fully relate to girls and young women on a grassroots level.
Women have been asked to keep quiet for so long. We are tired of hearing this. We know what potential and success we all can achieve without gender disparity.
"I believe empowerment is the key to transforming lives."
Tebogo Tsoane, South Africa
Guiding has taken me from a shy girl who always set boundaries on what I could achieve, to a young woman who knows there are endless opportunities and adventures.
I started Guiding when I was 12. I remember attending my first camp and being completely amazed at how confident and wise the leaders were. This was my first encounter with such strong young women who encouraged me to aim higher and find my voice. Till this day, I still value the impact that one camp had on my future in guiding, as well as my life in general.
I strongly believe the Law in any country fundamentally plays a role not only in ensuring cooperation, but it also improving the quality of life people experience. Following my three years of studying Law, I would love to use the knowledge to change the lives of others through improving laws or influencing decisions makers.
Many women still face numerous challenges from society and culture which stop them reaching their full potential. The work WAGGGS does, along with events like CSW, helps to empower young women of today who will go on to become our future female leaders.
I see CSW62 as a great opportunity to be part of a global conversation to improve the quality of life for women and girls. I believe empowerment is the key to transforming lives. Being part of this delegation is a great step for me to become an agent of change and also completes a dream of working for WAGGGS and the United Nations.