Delegate blog posts
Learn more about our delegates' experiences at the UN General Assembly in New York!
Sunday 27 September
Sunday - rest day? Not for a WAGGGS delegate during the UN Summit!
Together with about 100 other people we attended an event at UNICEF house discussing the global partnership to end violence against children. With a very distinguished panel of experts both from UN entities, other NGOs and the private sector it was an interesting discussion to follow, mainly evolving around the necessary partnerships that have to be built across sectors, the importance of relevant data to both target support beter but also monitor progress and lastly that youth, boys as well as girls, are important agents of change in the equation. Personally I would have wished to see more young people actually involved in the panel as well, interventions by youth (including us) were only made from the floor, but it was a good start and a great commitment made by those who in return can initiate for more young people to be part of the process.
With an extra cup of coffee in our hands we than headed off to the Civil Society Watch of the Leaders Commitment to Planet 50-50 by 2030. Never before have as many Heads of State come together to commit to gender equality and goal 5 as their guiding star. Whilst the high level event took place inside UN premises, we joined other civil society organisations to discuss for example the involvement of youth and their role in the implementation of the goals (are you starting to see a pattern here?) and to make a recorded intervention to the Heads of States. I find it always very inspiring to be amongst fellow activists and idealists. As much as it is important to meet and convince decision makers, asking questions and trying to involve them in the necessary change, it is sometimes just nice to find fellow souls that agree, that encourage and support you on your set path.
Because the path had to continue - in the afternoon we went off to a High Level Event hosted by Restless Development among others. The opening key note speaker was no other than HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (which we all found terribly exciting I have to admit) followed by the UN Youth Envoy Ahmad Alhendawi, UNDP’s Helen Clark, Secretary of State Justine Greening and Restless’ CEO Nik Hartley. Yet, they were not the stars of the show. Restless had made a point of nothing about us without us - and 75% of the speaking time, the MCs, the inspirational stories, all came from youth from I think 13 different countries around the world, showing that #Generation2030 is not just a catchy slogan, it is a reality already now. Rocio who is doing excellent work on participation in Mexico, Ankit fighting for LGBT youth in India, Rachel speaking about concrete action on implementation - saying that you are key - and then giving an excellent example on HOW we can be part of the implementation in our countries (by appointing youth focal points, one per goal, to consult and be the link between youth and government, certainly food for thought!). Needless to say, it was a great event and we left for the UN premises in high spirits.
The rest of the afternoon we spent in the interactive dialogue and plenary session (I listened to Francois Hollande of France and Michelle Bachelet of Chile for example) before finishing up with short video interviews (stay tuned!) and a goodbye dinner. Because as I am writing this I am actually at the airport and on my way home. I wish the best of luck to my fellow delegates on their remaining journey and again a huge thank you to WAGGGS for me to be able to carry all this thoughts and inspirations back home with me to pay them forward.
Saturday 26 September
Rise and shine, delegates!
Rise and shine, delegates! Hannah’s day started quite early at a breakfast meeting organized by Bond (a UK based network of NGOs working in international development). Not only did they provide coffee to wake us up, but also a very interesting conversation. Many of the events follow the same kind of structure with keynote speeches by the officials (in this case Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development from the UK) and an expert panel discussion. Hannah asked a question based on our key messages and girls’ involvement in the implementation of the SDGs as agents of change rather than solely beneficiaries. Although many of the officials mention girls regularly, not many are able to answer how they want to involve us and it is these structures that we clearly need to continue to explore and shape. We are in the minds of the decision makers, meaning we are in the room rather than outside, but we really need to make sure to get all the way to the table. Our mantra this week remains - 'nothing about us, without us', and we made sure this was heard at this particular event.
Another two delegates went to the ‘Girls Mentoring’ session organized by Girl Effect. During the session they had an interesting and interactive conversation with Farah Ramzan Golant, the CEO of Girl Effect; Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, World YWCA General Secretary; Former First Lady of Nigeria & Natalie Marie Byrne, the Director of Global Impact from Dermalogica. All these mentors shared about their personal experiences and how they were working on the ground with the girls. Coincidentally, almost all mentors mentioned about ‘partnership’ & ‘collaboration’ in their sharing. And we think it’s very important for us to work together as no one can work alone. Their personal experiences and works that they are doing certainly inspired all the young girls at the event.
All the delegates went back to the People’s Voices exhibition and networking took place during the visit. Thammy finally met some delegates from Malaysia and managed to pass her name card to the First Lady’s PA. Tsinjo also met two ministers from her homeland, besides exchanging name cards, she also gave a Guide pin to the minister, I guess the minister can never forget about Girl Guides in Madagascar now!
Friday 25 September
WAGGGS and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals
Friday 25th September 2015 is an historic moment for each developed and developing country since it was the day where was adopted the Sustainable Development Goals a post-2015 agenda which must be fulfilled by 2030. Three amazing young leaders from WAGGGS: Emily Rodriguez, Kristen Grennan and Tsinjo Rahaingoarivelo attended the openening ceremony of the UN Summit on SDGs from which it was adopted.]
WAGGGS voice, WAGGGS light lantern
193 young people, representing the 193 member states were selected to sit in the balcony of the plenary room of the UN General Assembly to represent the worldwide youth voice. Through Emily, Kristen and Tsinjo three solar lanterns were there lighting the voice of 10 million girls all around the world. Tsinjo had the opportunity to sit behind Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize Laureate who addressed UN GA:
“Today, we are 193 young people representing billions more. Each lantern we hold represents the hope we have for our future because of the commitments you have made to the global goals (…) I’m hopeful that when girls like us come together and raise our voices, the voices of those girls will be listened to because we speak on their behalf, we speak for their rights.”
Malala’s voice meet WAGGGS’ voice.
This was also the 15th Papal visit in the UN GA and Pope Francis addressed Heads of State for action on climate change as its link to the development. His Holiness Pope Francis’s voice meet WAGGGS’ voice.
At the end of the day, WAGGGS delegates celebrate the adoption of the SDGs with lot of fun and a quiet achievement spirit … Ready for the sprint of the next day.
Friday 25 September
WAGGGS and the Adoption of the Global Goals
Three young women, Emily Rodriguez (USA), Kristen Grennan (USA), and Tsinjoharinosy Rahaingoarivelo (Madagascar) were among 193 young leaders who participated in the opening ceremony of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York City on 25 September 2015. Tsinjo is one of WAGGGS’ Post-2015 Ambassadors. Kristen and Emily are members of the WAGGGS New York City based UN Team.
This UN Summit was historical because of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (known as Global Goals). The 17 Global Goals include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, achieving gender equality, and protecting oceans and forests. The Global Goals will guide development strategies around the world for the next 15 years!
In 2012, Emily participated the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (known as Rio+20) in Brazil. The new Global Goals were first formally discussed at Rio+20, along with the idea of including individuals in the decision making process of selecting these goals. Kristen became part of that initiative with her involvement as an intern at the UN’s Millennium Campaign and MY World global survey last spring. Tsinjo has been a WAGGGS Post-2015 Ambassador since 2013, and she has been attending international conferences and meetings to advocate for girls.
WAGGGS Lights Lanterns and Leads the Way
Our day at the United Nations was incredibly exciting! We joined young leaders (under age 30) from around the world at 5:30 am, catching the sunrise over the UN courtyard! The youth selected to participate included official national youth delegates and representatives from youth organizations, such as WAGGGS.
We were welcomed by the UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi in the morning. After we took our seats in the balcony of the UN General Assembly Hall, we anticipated presentations by Pope Francis, Malala Yousafzai, and Ban Ki-moon. Pope Francis encouraged us to take care of the environment and to put an end to exclusion. He discussed the importance of education, including for girls. Together with 193 youth from around the globe, we supported Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala, an activist for girls’ education and empowerment, during her speech. We stood with her in solidarity. We held solar-powered blue lanterns, lighting the way to a sustainable future for all children and youth. Emily, Kristen, and Tsinjo’s solar lanterns represented the 10 million WAGGGS members around the world! Malala raised her voice for girls’ rights and hope for our future. Tsinjo had the very special opportunity to sit behind Malala during the ceremony!
At the end of the opening ceremony at the UN General Assembly, the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted with the official gavel, and we celebrated by waving UN flags from the balcony! WAGGGS delegates celebrated the adoption of the Global Goals with a spirit of achievement for all of our collective efforts over the last three years. The adoption of the goals gives us hope and encouragement!
It was an honor to be a part of the historic adoption of Global Goals! Ban Ki-moon emphasized that youth are the torchbearers for the Global Goals. As Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, we have a responsibility to implement the Global Goals in our communities! What do you want the world to look like in 2030? Learn more about the Global Goals at www.globalgoals.org
Emily and Kristen
Thursday 24 September
But HOW are we going to do it?
Today was the day before it is all happening. Tomorrow, Heads of States will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda, the global goals, our goals. You can tell that something big is happening, not only because of all the police and security, but you can see it in people’s faces, when talking to advocates and decision makers, UN staff, government and civil society alike. Yet, there is this worry, will we see adoption and excitement tomorrow but business as usual on Monday?
From training to action - WAGGGS delegates get startedFor us, today was not only full of anticipation (after all, we have three delegates on the opening ceremony), but it was a day full of action. Action to show that girl scouts are prepared and ready to take on the HOW we will go about achieving the goals and to avoid business as usual. It was the day of our side event involving the entire delegation, and Hannah had a speaking opportunity at the UN Women Civil Society Thought Leader event in the afternoon. It was time to transform training into reality, our first try at making the voices of WAGGGS members heard and making them proud.
Our side event - Girls Do: Girls as Agents of Change for the 2030 Agenda
The side event focused on girls as agents of change, as active participants in the agenda, as leaders of today, not tomorrow - a potential and capacity we know we have, but we see far too little of. The panel and the audience together shared their views and ideas on the matter, best practices such as successful partnerships on the institutional level and barriers such as harmful practices and beliefs in communities. It was a fruitful discussion that showed that a lot of good is being done, we have the possibility to leverage the work being done in order to achieve even more, if we decide to actively play a role in the implementation of the new agenda and holding our governments accountable from day one. Together, this is HOW we can create action from the beautiful Agenda words.
Leading today - in partnership to achieve gender equality
In the afternoon I was invited to speak on behalf of WAGGGS at the Civil Society Thought Leader meeting held by UN Women. Here it was time to intervene and properly raise our voices. UN Women’s Executive Director held inspiring opening remarks, highlighting the importance of working together as partners and not losing a day getting started - as implementation has started already. It will be important to work with governments as soon as possible for them not to lose momentum after the Summit. In contrast to the Millennium Development Goals, the new goals need no explanation and sense-making process. As we have all worked on them universally together, we can start implementing them Monday morning, she said.
As for our intervention, Hannah highlighted the fact that Girls are leaders already, not just leaders of the future, and that girls are central to the new agenda. We are not just beneficiaries but the drivers and agents of change. After all, we are the ones who have to carry the goals into the future, make them our own and take a lead on them. She also highlighted that we can’t do it alone. We may not have been born when Beijing was agreed, but we are vital partners and in need of the expertise of those who were. The answer to the Executive Director’s question from a girl’s point of view is therefore easy - HOW are we going to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 5? Together, as a joint effort, because you cannot implement something for us, without us.
Lighting the wayWe finished our day at the Under One Sky Event held here in New York as one of over a hundred events highlighting our path to the Global Goals by ’lighting the way’. It focused on ending poverty, inequality and stopping climate change. It was a beautiful space, lots of people gathered to celebrate tomorrow’s historic event and the achievement of it. It made us think of our Guiding Light and how we let it shine, for us and our communities and how we are here to shine for all of you at home. There is no doubt in my mind that Guides are lighting the way and the that answer to HOW we will achieve the global goals will be "by partnering with Guides and Scouts", always prepared to speak out and take action as responsible citizens go the world. And on that note I will switch my writing light off to rest and gather energy for another highlighting day.
Wednesday 23 September
All the WAGGGS UNGA delegates arrived in New York yesterday,
we are happy to have delegates from Sweden, Malaysia and Madagascar to represent
the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for this historic event.
We started our day at the Girl Scouts USA headquarters with a full day of training and preparation for the 'Girls Do: Girls as Agents of Change for the 2030 Agenda' side event with our Head of Advocacy, Gabriella Pinto.
The training was really helpful for the three of us. Questions, expectations and concerns were answered. The training also managed to ensure that the three of us who came from different countries & background know each other better and work well as a team! Most importantly we have the chance to put all the materials that we have been reading into our own words and we are ready to tell what world what we are doing - most importantly what we have to offer to make the Sustainable Development Goals work for the next 15 years!
We will be having 6 panellists for the 'Girls Do: Girls as agents of change for the 2030 agenda' forum on the 24th, we will have panellists from UN Women, Restless Development & the UN Millennium Campaign. Tsinjo will be the moderator and among the 6 panellists, Thammy and Hannah will represent WAGGGS and speak on behalf of 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts worldwide.
As delegates for WAGGGS, we are ready to shout out about what we have been doing with our global programs and about what we have to offer to make the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda work!