Last May, the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls invited civil society organisations (CSOs) to a meeting. It was the first time since the pandemic that the group, based in Geneva, returned to New York. It was indicative of the lack of interest that there were only six of us there, four of whom were members of our Working Group on Girls (WGG) network.
They wanted to meet with CSOs to connect with CSOs and inform us of the work of the group. The current Chair, Melissa Upreti, stressed the importance of their collaboration with CSOs. Submissions and information from organisations like ours are critical in exposing human rights abuses on the ground for it to be addressed. It is also important that we use the information in our advocacy while also promoting the various human rights reports that they have published.
The meeting was also an opportunity to communicate that their latest annual report on “Girls and Young Women’s Activism” was going to be released in June. They shared some of their key findings including that most girls’ activism started as a response to an immediate need happening in their lives. But they face particular challenges due to societal misconceptions on their right to participate in political and public life including decision making due to their age.
The report emphasized the contributions of girls’ and young women’s activism “to the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of human rights and its profound transformative potential.” They also consider the structural obstacles that they face while also promoting what has been achieve and existing best practices. More importantly, the report provides recommendations for States and other stakeholders, including organisations like ours, to bring about a “safe and enabling environment where the activism of girls and young women can fully flourish.”
We encourage our network to read the easy to understand report and share with our students. You can download HERE.