SGI Promotes Education and Youth Leadership at Geneva NGO Forum on Women’s Rights

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Education and Training roundtable groupsThe Education and Training roundtable groups

From November 3–5, the Geneva NGO Forum—Beijing+20 ECE Regional Review was held at the UN Office at Geneva on the theme “Act, Advance, Achieve, Women’s Rights.” The forum, which attracted 700 participants from 56 countries, was organized by the NGO CSW (Committee on the Status of Women) in Geneva.

On 4 November, during the Geneva NGO forum, SGI and Soroptimist International, a global volunteer movement promoting women’s rights, co-organized an interactive roundtable on the Education and Training of Women, one of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA)’s 12 critical areas of concern.

Adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, the BPfA is a global framework for the empowerment of women that will be reviewed at the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) at the UN Headquarters in New York in March 2015 which will celebrate Beijing+20.

The roundtable was attended by over 180 people and a keynote speech was given by Maria Luisa Frosio of Soroptomist International of Europe. Ms. Frosio stressed the crucial role that education plays in combating violence against women and getting women out of poverty.

humzile Mlambo-NgcukaUN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (seated, center) with participants in the Young Leaders Caucus

The roundtable discussions were conducted in three groups, each focused on a different topic. Topics were literacy and access to education, the training and continuation of education, and non-discrimination in education and training. Recommendations from the discussions were incorporated into the Geneva NGO Forum’s Report to Member States.

One roundtable participant, a consultant on gender violence from the UK, commented “As a man committed to gender equality, it was wonderful to be part of an event, aimed at hearing civil society’s needs and views, that was able to promote such free, intimate and genuine dialogue, and to see the beginnings of women and men really striving together to achieve it.”

related article Human Rights Education Film Launched at UN Office in Geneva Human Rights Education Film Launched at UN Office in Geneva The film "A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education," which uses case studies from India, Australia and Turkey to illustrate how human rights education can transform the lives of individuals and communities, was launched at the UN Office at Geneva on September 19, 2012. SGI was also among the sponsors of a series of Young Leaders Caucus meetings organized by NGO CSW Geneva members during the Geneva NGO Forum.

Some 25 young people below the age of 30, took part in the meetings at which they shared experiences, learned about the BPfA and engaged in dialogue with experts and decision-makers in the field of gender equality.

One discussion was with UN Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka later tweeted a photo of herself (above) with participants that she titled “Determined young women tell me they want to have a voice in UN Women.” As a result of the Young Leaders Caucus meetings, she has agreed to support a proposal for a full day agenda on youth empowerment during the CSW59 in New York in 2015.

Other experts were Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, president of the NGO CSW Geneva; Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, UN Women regional director for Europe and Central Asia and UN Women representative to Turkey; and Anna Krahotin, second secretary of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in Geneva.

[Adapted from a report from the SGI UN Liaison Office in Geneva; photos courtesy of Soroptimist International and Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka]

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