Wednesday, 20 March 2013

CSW57 Update: Girl Child

Wednesday 6th March 2013

(Or: how I made the UK say the Girl Guides are fantastic!)

Today didn't exactly turn out as planned. I was hoping to go along to quite a few parallel events to work on lobbying on my subject group's topic (relationship and psychological violence).

However, I started the day by going to the UK NGO briefing, where we heard about how the formal discussions were going. We were told that there were a number of contentious issues which were at risk of being removed from the agreed conclusions completely. Included in this was all mention of girls, education and empowering boys and men, all of which are key elements of WAGGGS' nine calls to action, so this was a potential disaster!  At the end of the briefing, I ran back to the hotel where Andrea and I started to formulate a plan.

Since I had already missed my first event of the day, I decided I needed some down time.  Slouching infront of the TV in our hotel room, I ended up watching CNN's coverage of the Jodi Arias murder trial.  Having not really recovered from yesterday's anger at the EU, and subsequently not really slept, I started to really miss home and the non-biased-ness of BBC news.  The intensity of the previous three days had really started to hit me, so I was glad to have some space to myself for an hour or so.  (I may have also cracked open my secret stash of Cadbury's chocolate - sssshhh, don't tell anyone!)  It was lovely to be able to step out of the UN-bubble for a while, but I was glad to climb back into it before too long!

At lunch time, I went to a side event run by the National Association of Women's Organisations (NAWO),  where four members of NAWO's Youth Delegation (who I met at the UK NGO Reception - they were awesome!) spoke.  Of all the parallel events I attended this week, this was absolutely my favourite.  The speakers were so confident, and it was fantastic to hear such inspiring speeches from young women and men (that makes me sound really old.  I'm not old.  I just wouldn't have had the confidence I had when I was their age.  These guys were 17, and they were incredible!)

During the afternoon, I had planned to attend a joint UK and Netherlands side event about changing young people's attitudes towards violence, so I ran to the UN Headquarters to make sure I picked up a ticket on time.  When I got there, 45 minutes before the event, to find out all the tickets had already gone, I had no idea what to do.  I needed to get in to that event to find out how the UK and Netherlands were going to make sure the girl child was discussed and included in the Agreed Conclusions.  

Just before the stress properly kicked in, my saviour came along in the form of Annette Lawson, chair of NAWO, who had two spare tickets.  I just about managed to restrain from giving her a giant bear-hug before sprinting to the conference room.  For someone with a lifelong fear of exercise, I have done a lot of running this week...  Anyway, the event was so popular, I nearly got squashed on my way into the room, but I was going to get a seat at the table if I had to fight may way to it!

We heard about a number of different initiatives used in the UK and the Netherlands to engage young people and make them aware of what violence is, and it was really interesting to look at the different approaches used in the two countries. Lynne Featherstone, a UK Minister in DfID, spoke about the UK's “this is abuse” campaign.  She played the videos (also this one) and I tried very hard to hide my frustrations.  I mean, I get what they're trying to do, and yes, the videos are really hard to watch.  I get that.  There's just something that really bothers me.  Can anyone tell me what it is, 'cause I really can't work it out! 

When the time for questions came, I had my hand up first (surprised?) and asked what the UK and the Netherlands positions on the inclusion of the girl child in the agreed conclusions was.  The response from both ministers was really positive - they both absolutely supported it, which was a huge confidence boost. We also asked how governments would support NGOs in delivering non-formal education programmes (or something along those lines) and, completely un-prompted, Lynne Featherstone said that she thinks the Girl Guides are a fantastic organisation and that we do great things! WIN!

After this event, I rushed back to the hotel to debrief Andrea on the day and what I had heard about the discussions so that she could pass this on to Mary McPhail (WAGGGS' Chief Executive) and the rest of the WAGGGS' teamToday was the first day I properly realised the importance of what we're doing here.  It's all very well attending lots of parallel events, talking to lots of people, even asking lots of questions.  But if the people who are actually in the discussions and negotiations aren't there, they're never going to know what you want.  Today really showed me that, although Governments might not always be talking about the things you need them to be talking about, they'll never know that's what you need unless you tell them and then hold them to account for it.  

After yesterday's anger, today I really felt like I could do anything.  Today my life changed.  Again.   

Ps.  Sorry for the lack of photos - it was one of those days.  Tomorrow there will be something special.  It has something to do with this. 

Keep reading! Rx 

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