The 59th CSW Conference is a precious opportunity to review the Beijing Platform about global progress and development in gender equality and to consider the next steps, though different degrees of the gender gap still exist in various parts of the world. This seminar was started by Ravi Karkara, who was involved in the Global Migrant Campaign which focused much work on young women. He stated that many more opportunities have opened up for women, especially girls’, and Beijing +20 has had more specific goals for young girls. The year 2015 also marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He questioned:
· Where will the voices of young women and partnerships for them be?
· Do women and young women have resources and capacity to participate at present?
Global citizenship education has been placed as the 16th priority in SDGs. It should have, instead, pushed to the first priority. Ravi has been eager to hear from responsive governments for adolescent girls and young women to end all forms of violence – including gender based violence. Young Women’s Leadership Alliance should be sited in every single neighborhood to raise awareness of culture and civil rights, as well as to create a fundraising mechanism for promoting gender equity.
Hazami Barmada, a social entrepreneur working on public-private partnerships, believed that youth has been an agent of change on national and international levels. Empowering women should be done through education and advocacy. Yet, determining the power of girls can be problematic on the international level. What does empowering mean? It can vary depending on the cultural and geographic contexts, and it needs to depend on institutions when there is an inequality to build equal systems across countries. For example, 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls. These need to be broken down in order to localize issues and dissect the complex problems and cultural nuances. Strategic partnerships and coalitions have to be established on the business and economic reality. For instance, human trafficking is related to some economic reasons. We should negotiate local issues with global visions.
The work of Jennifer Astuto, Research Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology, Assistant Director of Steinhardt’s Child and Family Policy Center, and the Director of the Human Development and Social Intervention Program at New York University, is mainly concerned with the injustice in urban environments in America, specifically in Early Childhood Education. She strongly believes that early experiences do matter in a critical and meaningful way, particularly from pre-natal to five years old. This period shapes their mental development that promotes memory, interactions, and self-control. For instance, poor environments will lead to inactivity of children’s brains and their future disengagement. Education does not have to happen in the classroom, but also occurs within the peers, families, on the streets, and in the playgrounds. Therefore, structure of invention and prevention with care becomes parts of society to lift up the injustice when children face racism.
Lorena Arriaga, the First Lady of Mexico, affirmed that young girls and women have shaped their own histories. In her country, universal education has been implemented all the way to junior high school. Though girls usually have better performances in school, they start having fewer opportunities due to focusing more on domestic work from about the age of 15 years old. This phenomenon manifests deep stereotypes and generates inequality. There is a pressing need to develop institutions with global visions to eliminate gender inequality. Education is important to generate other rights, opportunities, and social justice in the immediate future. Education also extends beyond classrooms and needs to involve boys and girls in the family to make sure that gender inequality is broken down. It requires working with civil society to make it successful, so that young women will become major agents in their families and societies.
This session ended with the speech by Gabriela Mora from Young Women’s Leadership Alliance that women have to listen and speak up for what they believe.