Youth Organizations Caucus
3 and 4 March 2009
Young women and girls central to achieving gender equality in care giving
“While there is no doubt that care giving conveys rewards, it has huge costs for girls and young women, such as time, energy, lack of access to education, lack of secure employment and social marginalisation. This creates a tragic cycle of poverty, vulnerability and exclusion thus reducing their potential livelihood.”
This is part of the Oral Statement that was read by Miriam Otieno from Kenya, one of WAGGGS’ young delegates, at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Miriam was one of only two Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOS) that were invited to speak on the main floor to the UN delegates on 3 March.
Miriam spoke on behalf of the first ever Youth Organizations Caucus, convened by WAGGGS and World YWCA at the 53rd session of the CSW. With over fifty people in attendance, youth organizations from all over the world were represented, as well as youth delegates representing governments attending the CSW. Wearing green to symbolize fresh thinking and perspectives, the caucus identified access to education and appropriate gender-sensitive information as one of three key strategies to ensure gender equality in care giving.
Miriam Otieno says about the experience: “It was an eye opener for me as it also enabled me to have a feel of the proceeding of the deliberations on the sessions. I felt I had a responsibility to fulfil to the young people and youth organizations whom I was representing and reflecting back on our girl guides motto and promise. I was prepared and ready to fulfil my duty.”
Ensuring access to education is therefore one of the most powerful responses to combat the unequal division of responsibilities between girls and women and boys and men.
“Governments must also provide appropriate and gender-sensitive information to help young women and men understand their sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy,” the Statement says.
Prevent violence, protect young women and girls
The Statement also calls on Governments in partnership with families, communities and civil society to take active measures to protect girls and young women as well as support men and boys’ role in preventing and eliminating all forms of violence.
The Internet as a tool to eliminate negative gender stereotypes
The third recommendation from young delegates is for governments to partner with the media and Internet to foster positive portrayal of women and girls as leaders.
The Statement concludes: “To truly empower young women and girls a comprehensive social, political and economic response is urgently required, one that addresses the increased feminization of the AIDS epidemic. Girl children and young women must be placed at the centre of all efforts to combat gender inequalities and to ensure equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV and AIDS.”
Note: The Youth Organisation Caucus, an initiative of the World YWCA and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), does not represent the views of all young delegates or youth organizations.