My journey to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Conference in New York

Written by Rachael Graham, Girlguiding LaSER volunteer and WAGGGS Advocacy Champion

Today is the first day of the Commission on the Status of Women Conference in New York, where I’m delighted to be representing Girlguiding and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Back home in the UK I’ve been involved in guiding for over 20 years, and I'm currently a leader with Gospel Oak Rangers, St Pancras division commissioner, and an 18-30 membership representative trustee for Girlguiding LaSER.

I’m so proud to represent our movement at an international level alongside nine other WAGGGS Advocacy Champions. Over the next 2 weeks, our team will be working hard to raise the profile of the WAGGGS programmes that empower girls and young women in Member Organisations around the world and lobbying decision makers to take positive steps towards gender equality.

The theme of this year’s conference is social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. Each country will have a different approach to these three aspects of law and regulation but by the end of the conference the aim is for all the national Governments attending to agree to a set of conclusions that they will take forward and implement.

With this aim in mind, we will be lobbying Government representatives to:

  • Guarantee inclusive social protection to all girls by recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work.
  • Tackle harmful stereotypes by ensuring stricter regulation of sexist advertising.
  • Invest in girls’ agency and voice by supporting organisations to create and maintain safe spaces for girls to develop leadership skills.
  • End all forms of violence against girls and women by criminalising street harassment and providing training to police officers on how to deal with harassment and violence.
  • Empower girls through education by introducing education on human rights and healthy relationships into school curricula to increase girls’ awareness and understanding of their rights.

For a full list of our policy asks, please see our key messages document.

I really believe that gender equality is something that we can achieve but it won’t happen without Governments taking steps to put in place policies which protect girls and women and support them to reach their potential.

— Rachael Graham

If you’d like to follow my journey over the next two weeks I’ll be tweeting (@rachaelkirsty) and posting from the Girlguiding LaSER Instagram account.

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