In the first half of 2021, Girl Up leaders have had the opportunity to participate and lead crucial conversations at major United Nations convenings happening virtually around the world. Girl Up Club members joined global leaders on the virtual stage to share their perspectives on everything from systemically addressing gender inequities through public and private sector solutions, to ending child marriage, to the worsening mental health crisis during COVID-19. Check out below for a few Girl Up leaders’ firsthand experiences speaking alongside leaders and activists in their work to advance gender equality!
Sixty-Fifth Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
In early March, the UN hosted the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) focusing on “women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” topics close to many within the Girl Up Community. Girl Up Club members attended many key events and spoke in collaboration with UN Women.
- Selin, from Turkey, in her dual role as a HeforShe Advocate and Girl Up Club leader, shared her experience traveling across Turkey with HeForShe trying to bring her peers, including boys, into the feminist movement as well as her work to break the taboos and stereotypes around the meaning behind gender equality. Read more.
- Anusha, from the United States, asked leaders how youth can be further included in participating in gender equality discussions and outlined the importance of access to education for all girls. Watch her full remarks here at 53:00 minute mark.
- Leslie, from Peru, shared that we cannot speak of patriarchy without first taking into account the challenges faced by indigenous communities. Read more.
Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City
The Generation Equality Forum Mexico was held in late March and included three days of discussions, culminating in the unveiling of the Young Feminist Manifesto, draft blueprints of the Action Coalitions: A Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, a 2026 vision and a common feminist pathway created by youth and civil society leaders.
Girl Up leaders Salome, Laura, and Giovanna joined in discussions during the event.
- Salome, from Colombia, shared her thoughts on how governments and the private sector must do more to address gender equality from a systemic, intersectional lens. Read more.
- Laura, from Venezuela, called for more diversity within those represented at the forum to ensure full inclusivity in decision-making. Read more.
- Giovanna, from Brazil, shared her first-hand experience attending the event and urged organizers and participants to include more youth younger than 22, and to use social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok to engage a broader youth audience. Read more.
Seventh Annual Economic and Social Council ECOSOC Youth Forum
In April, Girl Up leaders took the stage at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, an annual initiative of the President of the Council. It has evolved into a key platform where young people can contribute to policy discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. Many Girl Up leaders joined the discussion and shed light on the multiple challenges faced in their own communities and their hopes for future solutions.
- Selin, from Turkey, spoke at the event and shared the importance of a multi-pronged approach to ending child marriage in her home country, highlighted the mental health crisis that has been worsened by COVID-19, and called on governments to do more to include youth in the decision-making process, rather than symbolically considering their needs. Read more.
- Laura, from Venezuela, attended the event and noted that there weren’t enough opportunities for young peer delegates to ask hard questions and raise issues not always addressed. “It has been proven that youth are really the ones with the boldness to say what others are afraid to say, the willingness to be intentional in reaching those who are hard to reach, and the faith to trust innovation and teamwork as relevant elements for their solutions,” said Laura. Read more.
Our youth leaders are continuing their engagement with the UN as we prepare for Generation Equality Forum Paris, which will take place from June 30 to July 2, including as members of the Youth Journey. Girl Up is also serving as a Commitment Maker for the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership, supporting the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality.
Girl Up’s Core Values include making sure that every aspect of our work is Youth-Centered because youth voices deserve to be heard in all the spaces major decisions are being made. We’re proud of the work of our community of changemakers standing toe-to-toe with UN leaders, calling for diversity, intersectionality, and the inclusion of more youth voices in decision-making processes. Learn more about Girl Up’s work with the UN to advance gender equality worldwide.