With the support of Plan International, eight youth delegates from Malawi, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Tanzania and Bangladesh were in New York making their voices heard at the CSW.
The presence of these youth delegates is particularly important for ensuring that young people, particularly girls, have the opportunity to be heard. Working with girls and young women and valuing their input is crucial if development policies are to be truly inclusive and relevant to those they are intended to serve. Due to their gender and age, girls’ experiences often go unnoticed and uncounted in favour of easier to measure metrics and easier to reach populations.
Making girls visible
Speaking on behalf of the European Union on the opening day of the 60th session of the CSW last week, Minister Bussemaker reaffirmed the need to have gender equality at the core of implementing Agenda 2030 and the importance of implementing gender equality across all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We very much welcomed the EU’s recognition of the importance of ensuring that indicators and data be disaggregated by sex and age. Data collection too often ignores the intersecting discriminations faced by adolescent girls. While statistics on women and on children tend to be available, adolescent girls’ unique experiences as they bridge the gap between child and woman can slip through the cracks due to overly simplistic data.
Yet it is at this very stage that particular care needs to be taken in relation to issues such as early and forced marriage, sexual and reproductive health rights, access to education, and gender based violence. As our CEO, Anne-Brigitte Albrectsen emphasised recently, “If we are serious about meeting the global goals, we must be sure that the indicators and measurements we put in place are up to the task, and that the specificities of girls’ lives are reflected within them.”
In calling for data to be disaggregated by sex and age the EU can help to push for a robust SDG monitoring and accountability process that is more responsive and attuned to the needs of adolescent girls.
Drivers of sustainable development
Another positive was the recognition given by the EU to the importance of strengthening women leaders’ and women’s civil society organisations’ role in advocating for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as in holding their governments to account.
We hope that the EU will show the same care for disaggregation in this regard and support not just women advocates but also girl advocates, recognising them as key agents and drivers of sustainable development and making sure that their experiences are accounted for not just in data, but also in discussions around the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
For too long, girls have been left out of conversations about their needs.
Over the coming months, through our Girls’ Voices initiative we will help create a space for girls to express their views and ideas about issues affecting them and tell us what effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals would look like for them.
Berryl, for example, is a girl from Kenya who in a guest blog for Girls’ Voices calls for bringing girls and young women to the table during discussions about the SDGs’ implementation. It is truly inspiring to read about what these girls do for sustainable development in their communities, and I strongly encourage you to read Berryl’s and other girl advocates’ blogs to have a better understanding of the particular challenges they face in their daily lives, and what solutions they envision to address them.
Throughout the year, we will strive to link those girls’ voices to the policy changes Plan International seeks to ensure that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.