Youth Forum at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women

We are living in a world plagued by conflict, economic insecurity, rising extremism and a growing migrant and refugee crisis. Girls and young women are specially affected by this as well as by gender-based discrimination, marginalization, violence and other human rights violations, including unequal access to quality education, healthcare, employment, and opportunities for leadership and participation. This situation demands that we hold the line with a unified assertion of the counter-narrative of peace, gender equality, sustainability and shared prosperity, including for the most marginalized and excluded.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is largely about youth and for youth, and the force and inspiration of our youngest leaders represents one of the critical drivers for accelerating progress on sustainable development and gender equality. Advancing young women’s and girls’ human rights, economic empowerment and political participation are critical levers for driving progress on gender equality, fighting inequalities and eradicating poverty, supporting health and wellness in our communities, and promoting inclusive sustainable development.

Despite growing evidence of the positive outcomes of young women’s and girls’ economic empowerment, young women and girls continue to experience unequal access to education and skills development. They face barriers to securing decent work and opportunities to thrive as entrepreneurs. Young women’s access to resources, including land and loans, may be restricted by discriminatory laws and practices. Furthermore, young women and girls continue to shoulder an unequal share of unpaid care work from an early age, due to the persistence of traditional gender roles. To overcome these and other challenges, we need a strong, transnational discourse of substantive gender equality, opportunity and justice, building and gathering strength from grassroots movements and networks and coalitions.

RATIONALE

The Youth Forum will build on the successes of the Youth Forum organized at CSW60, which brought together more than 300 young people. Delegates of the Youth Forum at CSW60 produced the first-ever Youth Declaration on Gender Equality and the Human Rights of Young Women and Adolescent Girls, which was presented to the Chair of CSW60, H.E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, and used as a key advocacy tool during the proceedings of CSW60 and beyond. The Youth Forum at the 61st Session on Commission on Status of Women (CSW 61) is a critical opportunity for young people and adolescents in all their diversities to convene in advance of the official opening of CSW to amplify their common concerns and advocacy efforts.

The Youth Forum will create a safe space for young people, particularly young women and girls, to openly, and strategically discuss the challenges and opportunities in their local, national, regional and global contexts in accelerating progress to achieve gender equality and sustainable development.

Additionally, the Youth Forum will foster collaboration and strategic networking among all young women and young men, and adolescent girls and boys, to strengthen their participation, voice, and leadership in the movement for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. The goal is to continue to build a global movement and infuse momentum with youth leadership for gender equality and sustainable development to move the action forward. The Forum is not intended to be a stand-alone event but will create an inter-generational ecosystem of support that will create momentum and strengthen capacity to move youth as key implementer of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national and regional levels.



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