Youth Delegates at the Commission of the Status of Women

by Meg Cangany

Meg is Plan International USA's Media Officer

I’ve just returned from spending the week with Plan youth delegates from around the world at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women. I am so excited to share with you all about what a tremendous experience it was.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an annual event, held at the United Nations in New York City, dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women everywhere. The CSW is an important forum to influence worldwide decision-making and action on promoting girls’ and women’s rights and gender equality.

Every year, representatives of Member States gather at the United Nations Headquarters to evaluate progress on improving the status of women around the world. Among the initiatives, participants and members identify the unique challenges facing women and girls, set global standards for legislation, and formulate concrete policies to promote the advancement of women and girls worldwide.

Unfortunately, because they are young and female, girls -- more than any other group --are marginalized, exploited, and abused. Yet despite these injustices, the girls Plan meets and works with around the world continually prove themselves to be intelligent, passionate, funny, hardworking, and hopeful.

As in previous years, Plan brought a delegation of girls from developing countries to speak about the issues and roadblocks affecting them. Our nine girl delegates added a powerful presence to high level panels, roundtables, and events, and were able to express -- through their experiences and unique perspectives -- about what it’s like to be a girl in the developing world.

The girl delegates who travelled to New York to share their experiences were absolutely the highlight of my trip. In watching them speak and perform, it was easy to see the impact they made on everyone in the room. Elizabeth and Loyce from Malawi, Fabiola from Cameroon, Fatmata and Teresa from Sierra Leone, Keang and Len from Cambodia, and Maryam and Alishba from Pakistan were such an integral part of the events and meetings, and they brought the issue of girls’ rights close to home in a firsthand and profound way.

Individually, these girls are so unique and special. I enjoyed every moment I spent with them – including introducing them to the wonders and variety of New York City takeout. Watching them interact with each other and the people they met, I saw firsthand how dedicated they are to unlocking the potential of girls around the world and securing equal rights for them. And when I saw them working together, I was left with no doubt that these girls have the power to change the world. And they are well on their way.