Building on the successes and lessons learnt from the Youth Forums of CSW60 and CSW61, the Youth Dialogue at CSW62 held on 17 March 2018 provided a space for cross-regional networking among young people engaged in various areas of gender and social justice. Following the theme of the Commission of the Status of Women, the Youth Dialogue at CSW62 provided a stage for young women, girls, trans, intersex and gender non-conforming youth from rural areas to raise their voices, address the challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and empowering their peers.
The opening of the Youth Dialogue was attended by Executive Director of UN Women Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and moderated by the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake.
The Youth Envoy framed the conversation by emphasizing that “We are the largest generation of young people that the world has ever seen. We are 1.8 billion strong and if we are to see transformational change, then it is our generation, that can make that change happen.” By sharing their personal stories, the panel of youth activist gave concrete examples of creative ways to open doors and thereby highlighted how young people mobilize to make change in their communities every day.
More than 300 young people participated in the Youth Dialogue, which provided a space to exchange ideas on how young woman and girls from rural areas can be increasingly involved in addressing issues that directly affect them such as climate change, health, land rights and environment, education, gender-based violence, child marriage, economic justice, and media and technology. With the principle of leaving no one behind as an overarching theme for the conversation, the Youth Dialogue also included young people from various marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, indigenous communities and communities in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Based on a series of online youth consultations and break-out sessions during the Dialogue, a set of recommendations to policy makers were developed on how to better include the voices of young women and girls from rural areas in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Among these were specific recommendations to provide accessible education to enhance skills development for young girls in rural areas; strengthen laws to prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence; implement progressive legislation that addresses the gender pay gap; improving connectivity in rural areas to bridge the existing digital gap; and investing in quality and inclusive youth-friendly healthcare, including mental health and sexual and reproductive health and rights services in rural areas.