Today the GFA Adolescent Girl Leadership Town Hall gave girls the opportunity to come together with a shared purpose: to reaffirm the power and leadership of girls worldwide. Throughout the town hall, girls engaged in vital conversations with key stakeholders: member states, UN agencies, philanthropies, and civil society organizations. Girls’ recommendations revolved around the five domains of adolescent well-being: good health and optimum nutrition, connectedness, positive values, and contribution to society, safety and a supportive environment, learning, competence, education, skills, and employability, and agency and resilience.
We are proud to report that a Good Shepherd student from India named Sugandha was able to give her recommendations where she called upon the Member States to engage as active participants with girls to empower adolescent girls worldwide. She shed light on the burden of responsibility that rests upon Member States’ shoulders to guarantee the safety and welfare of adolescent girls. She urged Member States to actively implement policies to combat gender-based violence, to focus on adolescent health, and to ensure quality education – so that Member States can shape a brighter future for adolescent girls.
Mr. Fred Simwaka, the Deputy Director for Gender Affairs responsible for Women Empowerment in the Ministry of Gender Children Disability and Social Welfare from Malawi responded to Suganda’s recommendations and seemed to agree with many if not all her recommendations, which is promising. It is through the commitment and support of Member States that meaningful change can be achieved.
During the UN agencies segment, Ms. Begona Lasagabaster, Director for Gender Equality at UNESCO and Sarah Hendriks, Deputy Executive Director for Policy, Programme, Civil Society and Intergovernmental Support ad interim from UN Women responded to girl recommendations and again agreed with many of the recommendations given by the girl advocates. UN Agencies bring specialized knowledge, resources, and networks to address the challenges faced by adolescents, making their contributions invaluable.
During the Philanthropies segment, we had the pleasure of hearing responses from Ms. Lisa Bohmer as the Global Lead for Early Childhood Development initiative at Hilton Foundation and Ms. Aminata Kamara, as the Acting Co-Lead, Resourcing Resistance at Purposeful. Philanthropies play an important role in influencing the flow of resources, particularly financial support, for the well-being of adolescent girls so their input is important for this type of conversation.
During the Civil Society segment, the importance of Civil society organizations serving as vital partners in driving transformative change, advocating for policies, and amplifying the voices of girls was demonstrated. We had the honor of having Christle, a Good Shepherd student from Sri Lanka address civil society as an ally. She demanded necessary space, support, and opportunities to drive girls’ development agenda. Christle also urged Civil Society to actively engage girls in policy creation, programming, and research. She called for Civil Society to empower girls to thrive and reach their full potential. Adolescent girls are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but they are leaders today.
Ms. Divya Srinivasan, Global Lead of the Ending Harmful Practices program, Equality Now and Ms Kathleen Sherwin as the Chief Strategy and Engagement Officer at Plan International responded to Christle’s recommendations and shared their reflections where in general they also accepted and complimented her recommendations.
It was clear that the girls appreciated the stakeholders’ willingness to engage and listen to them as equal partners. However more is needed from them – a guarantee that girls’ voices were heard and that their wellbeing is ensured.
3 girls from Latin America – Andrea, (Bolivia) Genesis, (Equidor) and Keiry (El Salvador), 2 from Africa Athible, South Africa, and Rose from Senegal together with Jasmine (India) were participants in the session. Isabel and Jasmine were members of the planning team but not selected as speakers.
Read more HERE about the 1.8 billion young people for change and the Global Forum for Adolescent ’23. October 11 and 12th are the big days. Join the world’s largest-ever gathering for adolescent well-being! The Forum will be a key milestone for the 1.8 Billion Young People for Change campaign, bringing together youth and adolescents, advocates and global decision-makers. Through national events and a two-day virtual mainstage, the Forum will promote political and financial commitments toward improved adolescent health and well-being.
Read more about the campaign