The road to 2030: “Leadership by and for young women”
On the occasion of the International Youth Day on 12 August, UN Women, in collaboration with the UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, hosted a side event, “Investing in young women's leadership is key to implementing the SDGs”, at the UN Headquarters in New York. The event convened 15 young women leaders to share experiences and strategies on how to empower other young women and inspire a new generation of leaders to fulfill the vision of gender equality and sustainable development by the year 2030.
“Leadership is not a choice anymore, it is a necessity,” said Monica Singh, acid attack survivor and UN Women Global Youth Champion.
“People will tell you that you don´t belong here because you are a women or it’s not your time yet…” said Donya Nasser, US Youth Observer to the UN and Board Member of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “You have the right to be at the table that is making decisions that affect your daily life.”
Across the world, young women and girls continue to face gender-based discrimination and cultural barriers, including unequal access to education and opportunities, which stifle their potential for leadership and participation in the society. . “When I was 16, my grandma told my father: ‘She’s not allowed to go to school anymore, it is time for her to get married’… I refused…When I arrived here and saw the skyline of New York for the first time, I cried,” recalled Nisreen Rammal, an independent gender and human rights expert from the Middle East and North Africa region. For her, promoting young women’s leadership is urgent, and personal.
Impacting one in three women and girls around the world, gender-based violence remains a formidable obstacle to young women’s empowerment . “I want to create safe spaces for my daughter so that she is not harassed…so that she feels safe wherever she is and wearing whatever she wants…” shared Shruti Kapoor, founder of Sayfty, an organization that educates, empowers girls and women to protect themselves from violence. “This can only be possible if we—men, women and people all genders—have open conversations and create safe spaces for all of us to speak,” she added.
“Investing in young women will not only change the trajectory of their future, but that of their communities as well,” said Ravi Karkara, Senior Adviser at UN Women. UN Women’s youth strategy is built around the “LEAPs” framework, which calls for investing in young women’s Leadership; Economic empowerment of young women; Actions to end violence against young women and girls; and strengthening Partnerships with young women, young men and intergenerational partnerships, to catalyze progress towards gender equality and sustainable development.
“The 2030 agenda is incredibly ambitious,” noted Jennifer Caplan, delegate of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, “but the solution is right here, in this room—leadership by and for young women.”
World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, South African Medical Research Council (2013). Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, p.2. For individual country information, see The World’s Women 2015, Trends and Statistics, Chapter 6, Violence against Women, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2015.