Survive, Thrive and Transform!

Blog written by: Vanessa Anyoti, SRHR and GBV Program Coordinator at YWCA of Tanzania

“Every Woman Every Child. This focus is long overdue. With the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, we have an opportunity to improve the health of hundreds of millions of women and children around the world, and in so doing, to improve the lives of all people.”

— United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

July 27th – 29th, 2015 I attended the UN Secretary Generals Global Strategy on Women’s Children and Adolescents (Every Woman Every Child) Health Adolescents Work stream Meeting hosted by UNFPA HQ, in New York. After a delayed flight, and spending two days in Amsterdam as a result, I arrived in sunny New York and ready to participate in the meeting.

The Every Woman Every Child initiative was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations MDG’s Summit in September 2010. The Every Woman Every Child initiative is a global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women and children around the world.

The meeting was focused on placing – by being able to account for – adolescents at center of the Global Strategy of the Secretary General on Women’s and Children’s Health. The inclusion of adolescent health in the Global Strategy of the Secretary General on Women’s and Children’s Health, represents a unique opportunity to place adolescents on the political agenda beyond 2015.  Ensuring that every adolescent has the knowledge, skills, and opportunities for a healthy, productive life and enjoyment of all human rights is essential for achieving improved health, social justice, gender equality and other development goals.

Participants of the meeting included Youth, representatives form WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, The World Bank, Lancet, UNICEF and the like as it was agreed at the meeting of the adolescent work stream on 4th   June 2015 that moving forward, there is a need to support all stakeholders, including governments and youth networks, to make commitments on adolescent health with the aim of strengthening investments at the national level in adolescents.vanessavanessa

We know too well the fate and reality of our adolescents and young women. Far too many are burdened by child and early forced marriage, teenage pregnancies, illiteracy, sexual and gender based violence, HIV/AIDS, etc. Participating in the meeting and representing young women and adolescent voices was both inspiring and saddening. Saddening because more adolescents and youth need to be involved in such processes, and they ought to be able to represent themselves in their diversity. Inspiring, because including adolescents in the Every Women Every Child initiative will help ensure that adolescents will be counted, and being counted shows relevance.

The meeting also focused on providing governments with an evidence base for adolescent health priorities, developing advocacy strategies for country commitments on adolescent health and developing strategies for mobilization and participation of adolescents and youth.

So what can we do next? Keep advocating and lobbying governments about the importance of adolescent health. Strengthen community and local capabilities to scale up implementation of the most appropriate interventions and advocate for increased attention to women’s and children’s health and increased investment in it.

Supporting a commitment on adolescent health will ensure that we create a better future for our youth, where young people can realise their full potential.

I would like to extend my gratitude to UNFPA for inviting me to participate in this meeting, and to the World YWCA and YWCA of Tanzania for nurturing me and allowing for me to participate in this meeting. Your mentorship is admirable.

 

En stage Ă  la YWCA Mondiale – une rĂ©flexion sur mon expĂ©rience par LucrĂšce Falolou, YWCA BĂ©nin

Le 15 juin 2015 a dĂ©butĂ© la 29Ăšme session du Conseil des droits de l’Homme Ă  GenĂšve. Ce Conseil des droits de l’homme est un organe intergouvernemental du systĂšme des Nations Unies, composĂ© de 47 Ă©tats qui ont la responsabilitĂ© de renforcer la promotion et la protection des droits de l’homme autour du globe. Et comme l’a dit Ban Ki-moon, SecrĂ©taire gĂ©nĂ©ral des Nations Unies, “Toutes les victimes de violations des droits de l’homme devraient ĂȘtre en mesure de se tourner vers le Conseil des droits de l’homme comme un forum et un tremplin pour l’action.” Ainsi, Plusieurs dĂ©bats ont rythmĂ© les travaux de cette session, en particulier les dĂ©bats sur :

– les droits de l’Homme des migrants ;
– La lutte contre les inĂ©galitĂ©s et les droits de l’Homme ;
– le droit Ă  la santĂ©, le droit Ă  l’éducation ;
– les droits des femmes et des filles, les violations et les discriminations faites Ă  leur Ă©gard ;
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Il faut noter que tout au long du conseil, qu’un accent particulier a Ă©tĂ© portĂ© sur les droits, l’autonomisation, le leadership des femmes et leur participation Ă  des instances de prise de dĂ©cisions politique et Ă©conomique ; avec la tenue d’une journĂ©e entiĂšre le 19 juin sur ces questions.

A cet effet, j’ai eu l’opportunitĂ© et le privilĂšge de participer en tant que « Jeune leader » au panel 2 sur « les femmes dans les instances de prise de dĂ©cisions politique et Ă©conomique ». Au cours de ce dĂ©bat, j’ai partagĂ© avec l’assistance, mes expĂ©riences acquises Ă  la YWCA et le rĂŽle que les femmes leaders, mes mentors, ont jouĂ©s dans ma formation de leader. Mais aussi, j’ai mis l’accent sur les multiples obstacles rencontrĂ©s par les femmes, les dĂ©fis Ă  rĂ©aliser et enfin j’ai invitĂ© toutes les jeunes femmes Ă  «oser la diffĂ©rence» et Ă  prendre des risques, afin de laisser l’espoir triompher de la peur et le courage vaincre la timiditĂ©. Oser la diffĂ©rence, c’est forcer Ă  s’ouvrir la porte d’entrĂ©e sur le marchĂ© du travail ; Ceci Ă  travers l’éducation. Car, l’éducation des femmes est primordiale : c’est la fondation sur laquelle repose tout le reste de l’édifice. Sans une Ă©ducation de qualitĂ©, on prend le dĂ©part avec un lourd handicap.

Par ailleurs, ma participation Ă  cette confĂ©rence et Ă  la fois mon stage au bureau mondiale de la YWCA a Ă©tĂ© pour moi une expĂ©rience inoubliable. Car ceci m’a permis en un premier temps de faire la connaissance de plusieurs personnalitĂ©s, institutions et amis. Ceci m’a permis Ă©galement de plaider la cause des femmes et des filles aux diffĂ©rentes sessions, rĂ©unions et Ă©vĂšnements parallĂšles Ă  la confĂ©rence. Comme par exemple ma rĂ©union avec son Excellence Mr Eloi LAOUROU, Ambassadeur du BĂ©nin Ă  GenĂšve.

Ensuite, j’ai acquis de nombreuses expĂ©riences notamment sur les stratĂ©gies de plaidoyer, le lobbying, un nouveau style de rĂ©daction, les logistics, de nouvelles mĂ©thodes de communication Ă  travers les rĂ©seaux sociaux, le rĂŽle jouĂ© par les diffĂ©rentes institutions de l’ONU et les Organisations de la SociĂ©tĂ© Civile, puis la maniĂšre dont les lois sont votĂ©s.

De mĂȘme, j’ai remarquĂ© qu’au bureau de la YWCA mondiale, on ne travaille pas silencieusement, mais on raconte des histoires et on rit beaucoup, sans oublier pour autant le travail Ă  accomplir. L’atmosphĂšre de travail Ă©tait parfaite, cordiale et surtout fraternelle. J’ai connu des collĂšgues trĂšs gentils et j’ai tout de suite Ă©tĂ© incorporĂ©e dans le processus de travail. J’étais impressionnĂ©e par l’amabilitĂ© et la patience avec laquelle les gens s’armaient Ă  essayer de me comprendre avec mon anglais « maladroit ». Mais ainsi, de jour en jour j’ai pu voir que mes connaissances de langue s’amĂ©lioreraient. Aussi, suis-je venu ici pour deux semaines et dĂ©jĂ  j’ai eu le sentiment que j’avais travaillĂ© ici pour une Ă©ternitĂ© ; je me suis senti chez moi. Egalement, les gens se sont donnĂ©s beaucoup de mal Ă  m’aider en tous les sens ; ils ont essayĂ©s de rendre mon sĂ©jour agrĂ©able que possible. Il y a tellement encore de choses Ă  dĂ©couvrir ici, mais dans mon cƓur subsistent beaucoup de souvenir de nombreuses personnes merveilleuses que j’ai connues pendant mon sĂ©jour : Linnea , Pauline, Caroline, Mandy, July, Rita, Marcia, etc. C’était tout simplement une expĂ©rience passionnante, magnifique et mĂ©morable.

Short-term Internship, Long-term Experience

By Oluwadamilola Fagade – YWCA of Nigeria & World YWCA short-term intern 2015

When I missed my connecting flight from Frankfurt to Geneva, a very traditional part of me was thinking ‘if I have started with this, I hope my short stay in Geneva will not be as dramatic’.

IMG_20150619_153138336My experience turned out to be a huge blessing. The first day at the World YWCA office surpassed my expectation. The homely arrangement that gives you this comfortable sense of belonging and the very warm members of staff coupled with the efficiency with which programs were being run had a huge effect on me.

My fellow short-term intern, Lucrece Falolou from the YWCA of Benin and I proceeded to spending the first day of the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council to learn more about the HRC, its key themes and events and the participation of the World YWCA.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN system that has been saddled with the responsibility of promoting and protecting the rights of human around the globe. It consists of 47 member states that are elected every three years and a bureau of 5 persons acting as the President and Vice Presidents. The HRC has 10 specific agendas guiding its operations. The first three items are thematic, fourth and fifth items are country specific, item six is called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and finally items seven to ten are technical assistance.

Throughout the duration of my internship at the World YWCA and participation at the HRC, I had the opportunity of attending various side events and debates and discussions, in particular topics on:

– Harnessing Faith and Culture: Addressing women’s rights and addressing VAW.
– Addressing Child, Early and Forced Marriage: National and Regional perspectives.
– Human Rights of Women: Eliminating and preventing domestic violence against women and the role of Women in economic and political decision making.
– Women and Natural Resources: Realizing Women’s Peacebuilding potential through Inclusive Natural Resource Management.

I also listened to the reports of the Special Rapporteurs on VAW, Right to Health and Right to Education and their emerging interactive dialogues. In addition to my experience, I had the opportunity of working with the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN in Geneva and my major responsibility was to draft statements from the UPR of some member states, which I saw as a very great privilege.

Furthermore, I had the privilege to participate as a panellist at a side event organised by the World YWCA together with its partners on “Technology and Economic Empowerment: Limitless possibilities for women and girls’ participation in the domestic sphere”. In this space I shared my experience as a young woman leader, the highs and lows of technology and economic empowerment amongst the young women in Nigeria.

Because of this experience my horizon has been broadened as I now have a wider scope of the works of the YWCA. I learnt how to use a twitter handle efficiently, I had my first webinar and gain and understanding of the importance of having a healthy work-life balance.

I will now return to Nigeria with a wealth of knowledge on new strategies of advocacy, improved communication skills and a better understanding of the operations of the UN. I am sincerely, thankful to the World YWCA for these invaluable experiences and also grateful to all the wonderful women in the office who have made my stay very comfortable and worthwhile.