Young feminist voices and civil society leadership were elevated throughout every step of the 2021 Generation Equality Forum’s design processes and advisory mechanisms. In order to ensure that this innovative partnership model is sustained and promoted throughout the Generation Equality journey ahead, a Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group has been established. The Group will support UN Women in driving forward the Generation Equality agenda, ensuring multi-stakeholder intergenerational collaboration remains at the heart of the initiative.
Among the 23 actors selected as members of the Leadership Group to date are adolescent girls Laura*, Co-Founder and President of the Women's Association of Innovation for Rural Development (ASOFI), and Kurumuthu*, AmplifyGirls Girl Leader. Together they will work to ensure adolescent girls’ perspectives are represented across all of the Group’s efforts. We spoke with them to learn about their reflections on their new roles and how they hope to use their influence to shape the future of Generation Equality.
What did you feel when you were selected as a member of the Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group?
Laura: When I heard I was chosen, I felt a great sense of hope because I realized that youth and adolescent girls like me are being taken into account. I felt that my voice was heard. As a young person, it's very easy to say ‘when I become an adult I want to be’ or ‘when I grow up I want to do’, but being part of the Leadership Group reminds me that young people don't have to wait to ‘be’ or ‘do’. We can become the change we want to see. For me, that change involves a world where all girls and women have access to quality education and healthcare; there are no victims of gender-based violence; and where we have equal opportunities in the science and technology industry.
Kurumuthu: I am honoured to have been selected and am thankful for all the support provided to me. I want to use this opportunity to help more girls and children to reach their dreams. As young girls have many dreams, I know I cannot do it alone. Being a member of the Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group will support my work to help my peers and help my community understand how important a girls’ education is.
What are some priority issues that you want to raise to the Group?
Laura: One priority issue is the need to promote science and technology (STEM) as a tool for equality and social good. Women still represent a small proportion of the STEM field and I believe that increased female participation in STEM is key to bringing progress in all areas. For example, part of my work in ASOFI explores how empowering women in STEM can contribute to the reconciliation process after peace agreements in the Colombian Conflict. Gender equality in the field of STEM is at the core of solutions on a global scale and I wish to look for ways to open visibility and opportunities within this field.
Kurumuthu: The most important issue I want to raise within the group is the link between girls’ education and gender equality. I want to see all girls in every community finish their studies without pregnancies that force them to drop them out of school. I'm interested in helping to train girls to understand how they can set goals and how they can build confidence in taking science subjects, which will give them more opportunities to choose their career and access job opportunities more easily. I also wish to stop traditional practices that hinder girls from acquiring education as well as to train my fellow children on gender issues and protection mechanisms, so they know how to report cases of abuse.
What do you hope to achieve through your Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group membership?
Laura: I wish to achieve observable change that goes beyond just talking. This means mobilizing more youths towards the Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group goals; advocating for opportunities for girls to get involved in decision-making and policy-making; and advising global leaders and UN Women from a youth perspective on crucial matters. I hope that the Group also serves as a collaboration hub, where the diverse members can find ways to work together to achieve goals at scale. I am sure that I will grow as a person and activist through this experience and that through my participation I will be able to apply new learnings to my own activism.
Kurumuthu: I hope that the Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group can help to improve Generation Equality by involving and engaging more youths who are curious in achieving equality globally. More people need to recognise that participating in this type of initiative can help to raise awareness on gender issues among so many people. On a personal level, through my membership I hope to support my desire to help more girls and children protect their dreams by teaching them how to better speak about their goals.
Learn more about the Multi-Stakeholder Leadership group here.
*First names only are used for safeguarding purposes