Over 6,000 women and men from around the world gathered in New York for the 51st annual meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The central theme of the two-week-long meeting, which will end tomorrow, is “the elimination of discrimination and violence against the girl child.”
More than 200 young people attended the Commission this year to speak about issues ranging from rape, trafficking, education, labor, and health care. Young girls spoke out about the lack of educational resources in various countries, and what measures must be taken to improve their lives. One young woman, Sunita Tamang, shared her story about growing up in a single-parent household and being forced to take a factory job to help support her family. She emphasized the role poverty has in preventing girls from attending school, saying, “The most important message is that governments should ensure that every working child gets a free education,” the Associated Press reports. As a result of a program launched by UNICEF, Tamang is now able to attend school in the morning and work in the afternoon. She has started a campaign in her community to educate young women and fight to end violence against children, reports the AP.
Young women and girls spoke about incidents of gender discrimination, female genital cutting, education inequity for girls, and the experiences of incarcerated girls. One girl, 15, spoke of her two years as a child soldier in eastern Congo. Other panel discussion and presentation topics included women and girls with HIV/AIDS, the status of Palestinian women, and forced and early marriage.