We are Jojo and Linda, Global Advocacy Champions, and we have just returned from CSW67 in New York. We feel inspired and happy yet extremely tired at the same time. Thinking of our favourite moments during CSW67, they're all related to times we felt most empowered as guides and scouts.
Linda's favourite instance was addressing the Secretary-General during the Town Hall meeting with civil societies. It felt like the moment we'd been praying for had finally arrived. This was our moment. We were representing the voices of over 10 million girls and women, ensuring they were heard loud and clear and calling for immediate action. It was why we were here and sharing the results from our #SheSurfsFreedom survey.
However, getting this opportunity was challenging because limited slots were available, and confusion occurred when a lady took our place because she thought it was for her. We momentarily thought that hope was lost, but Linda persisted until she was recognised and seen. It made us all proud when she successfully raised her voice.
I can't believe I had the opportunity to speak at the United Nations! The U.N.! To speak out for the voices of my friends and all members of WAGGGS. After all the other WAGGGS delegates had left for their home countries, I delivered an oral statement at the U.N. headquarters. I was nervous but knew all my friends from the Global Advocacy Champions and the WAGGGS team were with me. Never alone. I enjoyed speaking up for WAGGGS and being able to hold the governments accountable so that #SheSurfsFreedom.
Nothing compares to the WAGGGS spirit and empowerment.
But talking about only one favourite moment during CSW67 is almost impossible because it has been full of unforgettable and exciting experiences.
Another memorable day for both of us was International Women's Day (8th of March 2023), starting with celebrating one of our fellow delegate's birthdays in the morning. Friendship comes first, and then onto CSW67 and our Side Event session as a priority. For Linda, the atmosphere was just magical, seeing all genders in the hall ready to #Embrace Equity for a better world. The incredible performances of the song "Rise Up" and Broadway singers made us emotional and alert to take our places. Later in the day, I went to the U.N. grounds to see if any chalk was left to draw the WAGGGS logo and a message on the grounds. Luckily there was one chalk piece left in the bright WAGGGS-yellow. So, of course, we had to draw the logo, which is so dear to all of us, on the U.N. grounds while also adding our most used advocacy slogan this year that #SheSurfsFreedom.
Reflecting on overcoming challenges, I had an interesting first moment testing out my elevator pitch, a standard advocacy tool. I was trying too hard, overthinking which words to use, and remembering all the messages, so though the person listened, I wondered if they heard me. Towards the end of CSW, though, I met someone unexpectedly in the bathroom. Talking to the event's guest of honour, I spoke from the heart and was more comfortable and natural. They listened and were genuinely interested in taking the data away for action. My main takeaway from this anecdote is always to be prepared and be yourself because that is how you can advocate for what you believe in, even though the moment can be overwhelming at first glance.
Now, what next?
After CSW67, we want to point out that all this would not have been possible without the fantastic team spirit we have, online and offline. Overall we are 20 Advocacy Champions, from which only 5 of us had the opportunity to attend CSW67 in person. But we knew that the rest of the team was there with us, as well as constant support from our WAGGGS staff team. Of course, there were also frustrating and hard, challenging moments. But especially in those moments, the team was always there. Looking back now, slowly realising all that we experienced and achieved at CSW67, we are both grateful and extremely thankful for the adventure and the team who helped us represent thousands of girl's and women's voices at the CSW67 to make a positive difference for global equality and equity. We're committed and know that the action doesn't (nor our friendships) end here.
Blog by Johanna Veit from Germany, co-created in conversation with Linda Wilson from Ghana.