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Bringing Girls to the Table: Coalition for Adolescent Girls Holds Event During CSW 59

Engaging adolescent girls has garnered a great amount of attention this year, both during the recent 59th Commission on the Status of Women and in talks about the post-2015 development agenda. That dedication to engagement, however, is not always accompanied by a clear understanding of how best to do so. Following a rousing speech or panel, many are left with the following question: “How exactly to address the needs of or issues most affecting adolescent girls?” And in a sea of experts, advocates, and government officials, it’s easy to lose sight of the best source of information about adolescent girls – adolescent girls themselves.

That is why in the days before the world came together to celebrate 20 years since the Beijing Conference at CSW59, over fifty such experts, advocates, government officials, and adolescent girls gathered to advance our understanding of how to engage adolescent girls in the programs, policies, research, and campaigns that affect their lives.

The Technical Consultation on Adolescent Girl Engagement was held on 6 March 2015 at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, with the Permanent Missions of Canada, Peru, and Zambia to the United Nations, USAID, Working Group on Girls, and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls as co-sponsors.

The consultation objectives were to discuss and determine: (1) the key outcomes of girl engagement and associated indicators; (2) promising practices for meaningfully engaging girls; and (3) tools and resources regarding girl engagement that are already available. The ultimate goal of the consultation was to develop a capacity-building tool, which will be released later this year, that will help institutions engage girls, and/or asses their readiness to do so.

There were several Tweetable moments from adolescent girls themselves throughout the day. “It’s time to welcome girls to the table.” “We need to make sure that girls’ voices are respected.” “Girls are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today.” The overarching message was clear – adolescent girls should be agents, rather than subjects, in their own empowerment.

Empowering adolescent girls means increasing their knowledge of their rights, their leadership and other essential skills, and their access to positive role-models and mentors. Adolescent girls must be given the tools and space to voice their opinions, concerns, and solutions so they can help craft the interventions built to improve their lives. 

Acknowledging adolescent girls’ inherent ability to contribute to larger discussions, and hopefully actions, is the first step. The second step is to enable all institutions to engage girls in a way that is safe, meaningful, and mutually beneficial. Hopefully once we’ve accomplished both of these steps, we’ll start to see more girls at the proverbial and actual table.

How does your organization engage girls or, alternatively, how would you like to be engaged? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #GirlsEngage.

Photo Credit Winneba Youth Choir_Ghana_ @Sean Hawkey

Entry Comments

    • Apr 29
    • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    It is true that engaging girls is key in empowering women. I will cite an example, in Uganda most children feel that science subjects like biology, physis and chemistry are truely for boys. In other words girls cannot take on the tough subjects. The key factor promoting this thinking is that there are not so many programms targeting women with a communication that they can take up these tasks as well. As a result of this so many girls lack the confidence to continue with school and they choose to drop out and start families. If we had a few girls who would promote confidence among their peers we would probably have less teenage pregnancies and schools dropouts.

  1. A great step toward building a better future, we commend your efforts

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