It’s still very early here in New York and still dark – outside my window the Chrysler building is obscured by the swirling flakes. What am I doing in NY in the middle of a blizzard? I’m here for the most important global meeting of women’s organizations in the world, the Commission on the Status of Women. Every year the United Nations spends two weeks discussing the issues that women and girls face across the globe and comes up with a document called ‘The Agreed Conclusions’ which in turn influences policy and budget allocations at member state level. In other words, the document that is produced by the end of this conference will be used by us, Civil Society, to hold governments to account and say – hey! You signed up to this document promising more investment in girls education, now show me the money!
But it’s not enough that policy specialists and thematic experts and well known academics have their say. In fact, what’s really important is to make sure the real experiences of girls and boys from the countries who most need the help of huge influential bodies like the United Nations, are heard and taken into account. That’s why this year Plan International has brought together a phenomenal delegation of 13 girls from Finland, Canada, USA, Sierra Leon, Cameroon and Indonesia. They are here to make sure the United Nations listens to their perspective, to their thoughts and ambitions and dreams and fears and hopes and needs.
The girls arrived here and the first thing we heard was – it’s so cold! Yes, the girls seemed surprised by the low temperature, but had a great time piling on various coloured articles of clothing to create a dazzling array miss-matched outfits! Needless to say, the rest of us are faring no better bundled up in so many layers we waddle like ducks.
It may be cold out there – but it’s warm in our ‘girl friendly’ zone! One of our hotel rooms has been converted into a ‘girl space’ where they hang out together and spend their free time. This year the theme of the Commission on the Status of Women is the role of Information Communication Technology in women and girls empowerment. Well, they should simply come visit our girl-zone. They’ll see girls from different corners of the earth all similarly concerned with checking emails and updating their status on facebook, with very little regard to the differences of language, culture and background. These barriers have all but disappeared in the place where being an adolescent girl meets virtual space.
The girls have been flooded with requests to come speak at very high level panels and they have responded with enthusiasm! Eager to get their message out there, that girls are already tech savvy and the world needs to get with the program, they are spending the day polishing their speeches, tweeting and writing blog posts. Stay tuned for more as Plan’s girl-delegation takes the CSW by (snow?) storm!
If you want to hear more from the girls follow: @Plan_Youth or visit: planyouth.tumblr.com
Stay tuned for more updates from me as the week continues!!