“Solutions are impossible if they are not spearheaded by the people that it will impact,” Girl Up Teen Advisor Munira Alimere spoke on a panel at CSW this year and shares the story of her experience.
Last week, I traveled as part of a Girl Up delegation to attend the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). CSW assembles for two weeks every year the United Nations, and focuses on promoting gender equity and empowering women and girls. The theme this year was empowering women and girls from rural settings, and as we attended events we got to see what ‘empowerment’ means for different people.
I’m always very grateful whenever Girl Up gets invited to participate in these events, as Girl Up is one of the few movements that is led by the people it wants to empower -girls. Quite often, in the conversations about empowering girls and creating safe spaces for them, we don’t see any girls leading these conversations. As girls, we have our own needs, issues, and agency. When Girl Up is a part of these events, it creates a platform for us girls to share first-hand what we struggle with, and what actions we need to take- or are already taking!
Girl Up arranged a luncheon panel with Together for Girls and Women Deliver called ‘Violence Knows No Borders’. The purpose of this event was to discuss solutions for gender-based violence. I was part of a panel that discussed youth-led solutions. Speaking on the panel was enlightening; I got to share my opinions and how much Girl Up has done to support thousands of leaders like me worldwide, and emphasize the importance of youth voices.
I found the next panel to be the one that resonated the most with me. We heard from two Boko Haram kidnapping survivors, Hauwa and Ya Kaka. Apart from sharing their stories with us- stories I’ll never forget- one thing that particularly inspired me is how one of the girls, Hauwa, shared “Going to school tells me how bright my future will be.” It reminded Girl Up’s work supporting S. 1580, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, which emphasizes displaced childrens’ right to education access- especially for girls. This bill is particularly important, as education is the one proven way we can empower girls around the world. It also was a reminder how blessed I am to have an education and a community that supports it.
I left the audience with a note that I’m going to share with you: solutions are impossible if they are not spearheaded by the people that it will impact. No solution for girls can be effectively implemented without the leadership, insight, and support of girls. As we take steps forward to reach Sustainable Development Goal 5 by 2030, we need to acknowledge, embrace and uplift the voices of girls who are at the most risk, and allow more girls from all backgrounds to have a say in this conversation.
You can learn more about Girl Up’s Teen Advisors here, and how to get involved in passing S. 1580 here.