A delegation of 20 high school and middle school student leaders of Girls Learn International chapters from across the country, together with 25 parents, teachers, GLI Board members and staff are participating in six full days of workshops, panels and presentations in and around the U.N. during the 56th annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56).
On the opening day of CSW 56, delegates heard from Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women and former president of Chile, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee of Liberia. Both Bachelet and Gbowee emphasized the imperative to increase the representation of women at decision-making tables worldwide in order to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, including widespread poverty, health crises like AIDS, and war and conflict. Along with other speakers throughout the day-long session, they also emphasized the critical need to address women’s and girls’ reproductive health and rights, including access to contraception and maternal health care.
During the week, GLI students will lead a Girl-Boy Dialogue on how gender inequality affects their everyday lives, their economic self-sufficiency, and the ways they can support and promote gender equality in the global economy. The students will also participate in sessions dealing with ending early and forced marriage, violence against women and militarism, elimination of violence against girls, and engaging young women and men in advancing gender equality. GLI delegates are also the leaders of an all-student committee to draft and debate a Girls Statement for presentation to the CSW on education, violence, and trafficking of women and girls. The statement will be read on the floor of the UN during the second week of the CSW meetings.
GLI will also partner with the US Mission to the UN in a session exploring strategies to increase girls’ political representation, activism and leadership in the US and globally.
GLI student delegations have come from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Girls Learn International is a program of Feminist Majority Foundation. Students active in GLI clubs at their schools learn about issues dealing with human rights and girls’ education and develop critical thinking and advocacy skills essential to effective leadership. Every year, GLI organizes an official delegation of students to attend the CSW. GLI co-chairs the Task Force on Girls’ Participation for the UN-affiliated Working Group on Girls with the Girl Scouts of the USA.