By Danielle Marse-Kapr
YWCA USA Communications Manager
Earlier this month, I was lucky to represent YWCA USA at a historic event, the first ever Young Women and Girls Forum during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Hosted by World YWCA and sponsored by UN Women, the daylong event was planned and executed by young YWCA women. The day was full of brilliant speakers from all over the world touching on many of the most pressing issues for women in the United States and abroad: violence against women, access to healthcare, poverty, and education. Between panels, attendees broke into small groups to discuss the Beijing Platforms for Action and make recommendations for the post 2015 development goals. While we worked, artists rendered our ideas and concerns. Poetry group, I Sell the Shadow, facilitated discussions and created a beautiful poem based on our work. You can watch their recitation here!
Young women’s voices were prominent throughout the two week UN CSW. They shared their stories, led NGO side events on a variety of critical topics, and they supported each other as they advocated for the issues impacting their lives and their communities. During the YWCA USA and World Service Council reception, two incredible young women gave remarks about the work their YWCAs were doing. Following the reception, I interviewed both women. Isabella Diaz of YWCA Honduras spoke about how critical higher education was for girls in her community and how her YWCA was empowering women and girls:
Mary Fatiya of YWCA South Sudan also pressed the importance of education but brought a different angle: that education must be affordable and accessible. Young women and girls in South Sudan are often pushed into early marriage as an avenue to accessing education. Mary highlighted the importance of women supporting one another and the impact her YWCA has had:
Spending this time with other young women’s rights advocates was heartening and inspiring, but it also serves as a reminder of all that still must be accomplished here and abroad.