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Find out more about the young women representing WAGGGS at CSW57.
My name is Emily and I am from Australia. I am currently studying a bachelor of art theory and a bachelor of arts, majoring in history and women and gender studies at university. I am a Girl Guide leader and have been selected to join the 57th Commission on the Status of Women in New York 2013.
Gender-based violence does occur in Australia and unfortunately more frequently than our cultural media presents. There have been many high profile cases of random sexual assaults but sadly these reflect a small minority of the types of incidences of violence in Australia, and more importantly, these media stories do not reflect upon the causes or consequences of gender- based violence. As violence is horrifically unreported and under-reported, statistics are problematic as they do not reflect the realities of violence against women and girls in Australia. Moreover, conviction rates are abysmally low.
I strongly believe that education is the most important tool in raising awareness, redressing gender inequality and bringing about social change. I want to see greater efforts put in place to reshape our education systems and ensure that a message of gender equality and empowerment is instilled in both girls and boys, from infancy, and in all areas of learning. Moreover I want to develop a culture of action to ensure that the knowledge and information we have regarding gender discrimination is properly put into place in order to combat the prevalence of gender-based violence. This can best be done by ring-fencing resource distribution and allocation to ensure that proper research is continually conducted, that education represents and reflects this research, as well as ensuring that proper support services are made available for people that experience gender-based violence.
Beatrice (Burkina Faso)
Profile is coming soon
I grew up in Guiding, from Sparks to Pathfinders, and then I reconnected with Guiding as a Brownie Leader five years ago. I majored in Women’s Studies and minored in Islamic History. I currently work at a local rape crisis center and crisis line as well as a youth detox facility and therefore have an ample understanding of the challenges girls and women face every day and their value to society.
Though Canada is quite developed, violence against girls and young women is still a growing problem. Intimate partner violence is reported to crisis lines at high rates and there are limited resources for these women. However, one of the most pressing Canadian issues pertaining to violence against girls and women is the alarming number, about 600, of missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women of Canadaand the police inaction that followed. Most recently, there has been a series of issues and allegations against police officials regarding their treatment of women, including within their own force - leaving girls and women to wonder who can they trust?
I have participated in various projects on violence against girls and women including organizing various pop-ups and protests, beauty nights at women’s centers, and diaper drives at local schools. I am currently involved with organizing and delivering seminars about safety and health for female students aged 17 to 25 at my local mosque. Most recently, I mobilized people to the National Day of Action - a public educational event in Vancouver.
At the CSW, I would like to see UN Member States review their contribution to breaking gender stereotypes as this is often the root of violence against girls and young women and can be prevented early through education. I would like to see commitment to implementing and promoting this standard of education for girls and boys globally.
My name is Hasiniaina. My home country is Madagascar – the big island located in the Indian Ocean, along the East Coast of Africa.
In my country, violence against women and girls includes: physical violence; early marriages which compel girls and young women to early child-bearing; corporal violence such as beating, slapping, and spanking; domestic violence carried out by family members; and cases of sexual abuse including rape and forced prostitution. Child labour and exploitation is another form of violence which is prevalent.
In order to end violence against girls and women in Madagascar, the UNFPA has been doing advocacy work to assist our local governments over the past few years to pass laws that promote women’s marital rights, prevent gender-based violence, ensure fair balance between men and women in decision-making positions, institutionalize counselling and increase access to legal services to assist women who are victims of violence. Also, UNICEF which has been working with NGOs including Guide associations has been promoting children's rights. A few counselling and legal centres have been setup to provide assistance to those who are victims of violence.
Despite efforts by successive local governments to pass laws prohibiting gender-based violence, such laws still need to be enforced. Also, girls’ access to education should be set as one of our local government` priorities.
At CSW57, I expect decision-makers to sign an international agreement that will compel governments around the world to pass and enforce laws prohibiting and punishing violence against girls and women.
My name is Kumbukani, a CSW 57 delegate representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
In my country a lot of girls suffer the violence of rape, sexual defilement and harassment. Some girls are forced into early marriages. Some girls get pregnant and sometimes parents force girls into marriage to ‘save them from shame’ or sometimes it is because they want to obtain bride price (Lobola) as a solution to their poverty. Girls forced into these early marriages, sometimes suffer more abuse and violence from their husbands. These cultural and societal norms render girls and young women in Malawi vulnerable to violence.
I have been working on a community project that aims to end early marriages and raise awareness of issues of rape and sexual violence. In the campaign our main focus is on the rights of girls and young women and the welfare of people who experience violence. Hence we try as much as possible to ensure that every victim of violence has access to appropriate support, such as being directed to help and counselling. In addition, girls are also advised to reflect on their views of early marriage, rape and sexual harassment, and to also report perpetrators.
This community project is achieving its goal of helping to stop violence against girls and young women by working together with families and community people, which includes teenager volunteers (girls under 18) in order to change attitudes.
UN Member States at CSW should commit to support innovative projects in developing countries, especially those that include young people and girls since they are most at risk of violence.
Strong punishment should be imposed on perpetrators to hinder those that have intentions. People who experience violence should also be supported emotionally because of the psychological impact of violence.
Having joined the village Brownie Pack at the tender age of 7, little did I know that I would end up representing the WAGGGS at the CSW, lobbying on violence against girls. I am currently coordinating the WAGGGS “Stop the Violence” campaign in Malta focusing on non-formal education, raising awareness about the warning signs of violence in teenage relationships and data collection. I have represented the Malta Girl Guides on various platforms including the NGO Committee at the National Youth Council. I also had the opportunity to participate in youth conferences about the EU enlargement and its implications on youths both at local and European level.
I was a member of the Advocacy Working Group of the WAGGGS European Region during the last triennium. This was a golden stepping stone for me to deal with girls and young women issues, to analyse the main obstacles for girls and young women in various European countries and to explore the way forward for them. Through this role, I had the chance to understand and explore advocacy with the rest of the team, to realise WAGGGS’ mission of developing of one’s potential and to facilitate workshops during European Guide events like Roverway and other youth events. I also worked with YWCA on their advocacy training programme and various other women organisations at the MEP’s lobby meeting on zero tolerance to violence against women which took place at the European Parliament in 2011.
Last December I took part in the Global Youth Forum where the main focus was the post-2015 MDGs era in conjunction with the following themes: Healthy Lifestyle, Family Rights, Comprehensive Education and Decent Youth work. WAGGGS are putting this issue on their top agenda and during CSW they will be organising a youth consultation on this and shall promote My World Survey.
Gender issues have always been an interesting subject for me. In fact, I have just finished a Master in European Law and the focus of my thesis was the burden of proof in discrimination cases in European jurisprudence.
Margot (The Netherlands)
My name is Margot. I am a 20 year old student and I am from the Netherlands, where I study medicine.
I have been researching violence against girls and young women in the Netherlands as part of my preparation for CSW57. When I read the rates of violence in my country, I was really shocked as violence against girls and young women is very common in the Netherlands. I did not expect this because in our media, violence against women and girls is portrayed as something that takes place in other countries, countries that are still developing, or countries that have an intolerant culture against women. But this is not correct: in the Netherlands
- 14 per cent of all girls are coerced into sexual activities they do not fully agree to
- 45 per cent of Dutch inhabitants are a victim of domestic violence
- 33 per cent of girls under 16 have experienced sexual violence
These numbers are grim and they shocked me. There are not enough facilities and safe spaces to help all these victims of violence and there is not enough awareness in society to deal with this properly.
As I do not want to close my eyes to this violence, but instead act, I participated in WAGGGS' Europe region 'Stop the Violence' action plan seminar, in which I got an overview of what the Stop the Violence campaign consisted of and how we can roll out the campaign in our local Scouting and Guiding organizations. With my national Scouting organization, I am currently planning to do a programme on the Stop the Violence campaign.
I am really looking forward to go to New York for CSW57, as I want to see and influence how decisions on such a sensitive topic are made. I feel that UN Member States should commit to provide education on violence for boys and girls, to teach them at a young age that violence is wrong and must stop.
Fiona (New Zealand)
Kia ora, I am Fiona, a 26 year old Girl Guide from New Zealand. In my day job I work as a Pharmacist and in Guiding I lead a Ranger unit (13-18 year olds).
Violence affects girls in New Zealand primarily through: relationship/partner abuse, domestic/family violence and bullying. The forms of violence vary in every community but we can all feel fear and loss of confidence from experiencing violence. I believe Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has an important role to play in educating girls and young women and helping them to influence change by letting their communities know why the issue of violence is so important to them.
I attended the 55th session of the CSW as a youth delegate. On my return, I organized and ran an event called Take Back the Night which has a focus on women feeling safe at night. I have created and published a toolkit to help others plan and run this event. In 2012, three teams of young leaders from around New Zealand ran this event in their communities. This local action has allowed more girls and young women to have a voice on an issue that they are passionate about, and to feel like they can contribute to real change.
I have been actively involved with GirlGuiding New Zealand’s participation in and contribution to the pilot of Voices against Violence. My Ranger unit was able to trial some of the curriculum materials.
For the 57th CSW, I am looking forward to my role as a delegation coordinator to support and mentor the youth delegates. I will be advocating for UN Member States to commit to ongoing education (both formal and non-formal settings) of all girls and boys, young women and men, and for continued access to support services.
Claire (New Zealand)
Hello my name is Claire and I am from New Zealand. I have been involved in Girl Guiding since the age of seven. I enjoy snowboarding, travelling and of course being part of Girl Guides.
Unfortunately in New Zealand, too many forms of gender-based violence occur. Incidents are becoming more and more frequent. Especially disturbing is the child and domestic cases. Cyber bulling, especially amongst young people, is becoming all too prevalent in our technological society.
In September 2012 I led a team that organized the inaugural “Take Back the Night Rally” for our local region. Our rally provided an opportunity for the participants to speak out against violence towards girls and young women. Glow sticks were snapped and raised to the night sky as a symbolic gesture to remember all those that have been affected by violence. By lighting up the dark night sky we wanted to reclaim the night as a safe space for all.
I also volunteered my Pippin unit (girls aged 5 and 6) to partake in the Voices against Violence pilot programme. I was keen to instil awareness in my girls and to see what impact the badge programme would have on a younger age group. I look forward to the Voices against Violence curriculum being launched in 2013 at CSW.
I want the UN Member States at CSW to commit to an action plan which will lead them on the path to eliminating all forms of violence against girls and women in our communities. It should include actions for education, policy and protection. I want these action plans to be underway in the Member States within a year of CSW 57.
My name is Nazish and I am from Pakistan and I have been working with Girl Guides since I was six. Currently I am an assistant guider for junior guides. I am also studying women’s studies at university. I am passionate about working for women’s empowerment.
Women constitute about 50 per cent of the population of Pakistan and violence is a major issue here. Girls are at risk everywhere: in schools, at work, on the streets and even in their homes. That includes harassment, beating and burning to death for dowry, early marriages, sexual abuse, domestic violence, trafficking, female infanticide, honour killing, objectification of women etc. I feel that the major reason for this is extremism and of course illiteracy and orthodox thinking. As Pakistan nourishes a patriarchal society where women are dependent on men in every way, it is difficult to solve these problems.
Two years ago in Swat, Pakistan, a girls’ school was burnt down just because some people think that women have no right to education. The recent example of Malala in Pakistan demonstrates how you could be harmed for only speaking up for the right to education.
I have done some projects related to violence against girls with Girl Guides. This includes:
- An awareness session on child abuse for Girl Guides in my locality, focusing on child sexual abuse, trafficking and its preventive measures.
- A session on violence against women in which we discussed different types of harassment in society faced by women through visual presentations.
- Recently, I did an activity from the 16 days of activism campaign with the Guides about how to create safe spaces around us.
I am excited about getting the opportunity to represent WAGGGS as a youth delegate at the CSW. Through CSW, I want to see changes which can help in changing the lives of women and girls. Laws exist but mostly they are not implemented. There should be strict laws and punishments for offenders, and education and awareness campaigns on women and girls’ rights. UN Member States should commit to implementing these at a national level.
Chamathya (Sri Lanka)
Profile is coming soon
My name is Emna and I am from Tunisia. I am a 22 year old French student. I discovered the world of Girl Scouting in 2007, and I have been a Girl Scout for more than 4 years.
In Tunisia, especially after the revolution, we can now talk about this topic of gender-based violence. According to a recent study made by the “National Board For Family and Population”, physical violence is the most frequent violence, after that psychological violence, sexual violence and then economic violence. The frequency of experience for people varies according to age. In Tunisia, one in five women experience physical violence at least once in their lives, and one in six experience sexual violence.
From Saturday 12 January to Monday 14 January 2013, Tunisia Girl Scouts had a three day non-stop event: “Stop Violence Against Women”. The event was prepared by Girl Scouts, but both girl and boy Scouts participated in the event. During these three days, we had discussions with doctors, judges and lawyers about gender-based violence and it was really interesting! We also had many workshops on drawing, theater and poetry. 14 January was a special day for all Tunisians, and especially for us as Scouts, since it was the Day of Youth. We celebrated it by walking a long distance with banners proclaiming "No to violence in Tunisia". A lot of Tunisians watched us and encouraged us in our work against violence.
At CSW, I want to see new methods of awareness, new solutions to solve this violence. I also want to hear other's experiences and to learn from all of them. I am so excited to attend CSW57 because I am a young woman and I want to shout "No!" to all forms of violence against girls and young women!
Rosy (United Kingdom)
I am a Brownie Leader in Edinburgh and have been involved with GirlguidingUK for 20 years, since I was five years old! I love being a member of this organization because it provides amazing opportunities for girls and young women of all ages to develop and try new challenges.
A recent survey reported that at least one in four women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. This same survey shows that every year in the UK around 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 women raped. Around 21 per cent of girls experience some form of child sexual abuse and 33 per cent of girls between the ages of 13-17 in the UKhave reported experiencing sexual violence from a partner. Other forms of violence in the UK include forced marriage and female genital mutilation, although these are rarely reported.
GirlguidingUK's Girls' Attitudes Survey found that there is a lack of female role models in the UK. This can have negative effects on the confidence and self esteem of girls and young women. I would like to see this change so that girls are inspired to make a change.
In 2012, I led a pilot of WAGGGS' Voices against Violence education curriculum with my Brownies. Over six weeks I used games and crafts to engage girls in the topic. We focussed on developing healthy relationships and giving girls the confidence to speak out against bullying and gender stereotyping. After CSW, I will be working with Girlguiding Scotland to promote the Stop the Violence campaign and to give leaders confidence to participate in the curriculum.
At CSW, the main change I would like to see is international, national and local commitment to the provision of funding for programmes to stop violence against girls and young women. With this funding, I want to see a commitment to deliver gender equality education, for boys and girls, to empower girls and young women to claim their rights
My name is Sylvia Chivunda and I am from Lusaka, Zambia. I am currently studying Business Administration. I am currently sitting on the National Board as the National Youth Commissioner for the Girl Guides Association of Zambia and I have been selected to join the 57th Commission on the Status of Women in New York 2013.
Zambia has in the past few years seen an increase in the number of cases of violence, mostly being physical and sexual. Unfortunately not much reporting is being done by the victims due to fear of victimization. There have been many different faces of this violence, ranging from raping of young girls and young women to the battering of women. Traditional beliefs and norms have stopped the reporting of violence crimes in many communities, especially in the rural areas of Zambia. Women still do not have the right to participate freely in decision-making positions and the levels of illiterate women are still high.
I believe that the empowerment and creating of educational opportunities for girls is key in the elimination and prevention of gender-based violence. Awareness, redressing gender inequality and bringing about social change and cultural change also has to be embraced by the government and traditional leaders. As a young person I want to see great efforts being put in place by our leaders to redesign our education policy and delivery systems and ensure it is administered equally to ensure that both girls, boys, men and women are empowered and treated with the same respect and dignity in society. Furthermore, I would like to see the development of support centres for people who have experienced violence to be protected and to rebuild their confidence. In this vein the Government should allocate more resources to youth developmental programmes and projects and also create platforms for them to participate in decision-making processes in order to effect change and make this world a better place to leave in.