At CSW65, youth leaders call for intergenerational co-leadership and accountability for the Generation Equality Forum

Date: Friday, March 19, 2021

At a side event during the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), the Generation Equality Youth Task Force, UN Women, and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth convened a high-level dialogue to critically examine the meaning of shared intergenerational co-leadership and mutual accountability. 

In line with the theme of CSW65 on women´s participation and decision-making in public life, the event focused on recognizing young people’s efforts in shaping a more equal recovery from COVID-19 and a sustainable future.

“We need to work with young people who have a more inclusive vision of societies. Including women who are afro-descendent, indigenous, from rural communities and LGBTI groups, among other marginalized communities, should be a top priority”, said Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr.

Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth also referred to the importance of being inclusive: “For those of us who have the space, let’s try not to be the voice of the voiceless. Let’s try and bring everyone to the table so that they can speak for themselves.”

The dialogue provided a safe space for discussions about the challenges and opportunities for young people to meaningfully influence decision-making at the highest levels, moving the needle from participation to influencing transformative change. Anika Jane Dorothy, member of the Generation Equality Youth Task Force, spoke candidly about youth’s experience within the Generation Equality Forum process: “This hasn’t been an easy space, but our views are not our governments’. We come as raw and as unedited as possible to give you an idea of the grassroots level. To young people I say: please do not tire.”

UN Women Executive Director encouraged youth to take spaces of power: “There are only a few women in strategic positions so wherever you are, participate as much as you can, challenge, have your voice heard,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The dialogue provided the opportunity to frame youth priorities prior to the kickoff of the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City, from 29 – 31 March. The multi-stakeholder Forum, designed to inspire urgent action, commitments and investments to achieve gender equality, is co-led by governments, civil society, youth movements and the private sector. Youth are part of the highest decision-making body of the Forum, the Core Group, and a critical part of the Action Coalitions – new and innovative partnerships that include governments, feminist and youth movements and organizations, the private sector and international organizations.


In this context, Anika Jane Dorothy asked fellow members of the Core Group: “How will the Forum cascade to the grassroots, to make sure that each and every one of us joins the journey? how do we inspire a movement?”

Lopa Banerjee, Executive Coordinator of the Generation Equality Forum, spoke about the innovative spirit of the co-leadership model that the Forum represents: “We need a new kind of table that allows everybody to sit around. This is the true meaning of leadership: co-sharing and changing agendas, seeding space for different agendas,” she said.

During the event, the National Gender Youth Activists presented the idea of the Youth Accountability Framework to emphasize the importance of robust accountability mechanisms and meaningful youth inclusion in the implementation, monitoring and review of Generation Equality Forum outcomes.

The Framework “is aiming to ensure that the spaces within UN Women and other stakeholders, particularly in the Generation Equality Action Coalitions and beyond, are inclusive, with a clear recognition of youth expertise and contributions to the gender equality agenda,” said Jeevika Shiv, National Gender Youth Activist.

The event was also an opportunity to activate the #ActForEqual campaign among young people to take action and drive commitments towards the Generation Equality Forum.

For up-to-date information about the Generation Equality Forum, visit https://forum.generationequality.org.