AYUDH was honoured to be part of the first-ever Youth Forum, preceding the 60th session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60), at the UN headquarters in New York. Over 400 young people from over 50 countries gathered from 12-13 March 2016 to define a vision for gendered implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The key theme Advancing Agenda 2030 – Empowered Young Women and Young Men as Partners in Achieving Gender Equality – provided a strong foundation for discussion and recommendations.
Members of AYUDH Europe contributed to efforts to organise this historic event, spearheaded by the World YWCA in partnership with UN Women, as part of the Working Group of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD). The most significant outcome of the Forum was a Youth Declaration, developed over the course of two days and outlining gender-just and youth-centric policy recommendations. The Declaration was presented to H.E. Amb. Patriota of Brazil, Chair of CSW60, who pledged to share and incorporate it into the official Agreed Conclusions, a text negotiated by UN Member States.
For the first time ever, a youth representative was invited to make a statement at the opening session of CSW60, highlighting young people’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda. Vanessa Anyoti called on Member States to: incorporate the youth forum recommendations into the agreed conclusions during their deliberations; create opportunities and invest resources, political will and concrete support to young women and girls; ensure that all young women and girls have a voice and appropriate skills to enable them to make informed decisions; and commit to action to end all forms of violence against young women and girls and support survivors of violence. She also called upon all young men and boys to act to achieve gender equality.
During the course of the weekend, AYUDH youth ambassadors personally met with high-level UN officials and delegates including Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women; Mr. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor Strategic Partnerships and Advocacy and Co-Chair of the World We Want 2015; Mr. Ahmad Al Hendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Ms. Monica Singh, Global Youth Champion for UN Women and social activist, and UN youth delegates from around the world. AYUDH members also presented a workshop featuring Amrita University’s AMMACHI Labs Women’s Empowerment: Sanitation Project and the need to establish grassroots cooperatives led by young women to ensure sustainable economic and social development.
The Forum helped to foster strategic partnerships between AYUDH and other NGOs that align with our values, and paved the way for collaboration in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Following the Forum, AYUDH’s European Director was also appointed to serve on the UN IANYD Task Force on engaging young men in achieving gender equality.