There has been momentum building in recent years, where children and young people, and especially girls and young women have been seizing increasingly more opportunities to make their voices heard. Generation Equality and the Beijing+25 process is an example of this, with hundreds of girls and young women worldwide sharing their views on the review process of the Beijing Platform for Action and the progress we have made towards achieving gender equality.
Girls no longer want to be simply listened to – they want to co-create a new reality. It is more than creating space. It’s about changing our ways of working to allow for girls and young women to exercise their right to participate in public affairs and take an active role in shaping our world.
How can we ensure that the international system is inclusive, fit for purpose and remains relevant for the generation, by putting girls’ voices and their rights at the centre of decision making processes?
A DIALOGUE ACROSS THE GENERATIONS
In the form of an intergenerational dialogue, co-designed by the young advocates, the speakers discussed issues ranging from barriers to girls' participation, to how to build young people's skills and resources for participation, to how governments and parliaments can be more representative and inclusive.
The girls opened the event with their inspiring remarks. They emphasized that girls’ rights, including their right to participation, were systemically violated, and that although participation was a right, it is not yet a norm. They cited multiple barriers to girls’ participation in decision-making, including traditional gender norms, lack of information, lack of support, language barriers. They shared that often children feel intimidated by adults, who condescend to them, believing that they are incapable of participating meaningfully. Finally, they argued that in order for policies to truly respond to the needs of girls in all of their diversities, it is critical that an intersectional lens is taken.