During the recent United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum in January 2017, I represented WAGGGS and Girl Scouts of the USA. Here I advocated for youth rights - more specifically girls’ rights where I gave presentations and attended ECOSOC sessions with 50 Ministers of Youth and hundreds of civil society and youth organisations.
I presented on a panel on the theme of how technology can support young people to work on the Sustainable Development Goals alongside representatives from UNICEF and the UN Major Group on Children and Youth. I spoke about data collected on U-Report, a new platform WAGGGS is using to gather opinions from young people. The information is then used to share girls’ voices with decision-makers to influence policies and advocate for the importance of listening to girls. It’s a great, free and easy way to make your own voice heard and take part in a global community. I would encourage all Girl Scouts and Girl Guides to sign up!
My presentation was specifically about a poll created to showcase in the Youth Forum on sexual violence against women and girls. The poll asked whether it is ever okay to pressure a girl or woman into sex and it was alarming to find that almost one third of people said ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes’. This is absolutely unacceptable and strides need to be taken in order to change this.
Later, I took part in a breakout session about SDG 5, focusing on ending gender inequality. The group discussion concluded that girls and women are often at a disadvantage when accessing technology, due to a gap in wealth between men and women. Closing the divide in access to technology would be one small step towards ending inequalities between the sexes.
Being a United Nations representative for Girl Scouts USA and WAGGGS was extremely empowering and made me feel like I can actually have an impact on the global community! Taking part in the ECOSOC Youth Forum opened my eyes to what young people are doing around the world to engage in international decision-making and the strides we are taking to make our world even better. Finally, this opportunity to see what I can do to engage in international affairs and policy-making has given me an idea of the career direction I wish to take in the future as a young woman leader!