For the second year in a row the Girl Child Platform is going to the UN:s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The 61st session of CSW begins on March 13th and continues for two weeks. Representatives from UN member states, UN agencies and nonprofit organizations from all over the world will participate in the sessions.
The theme of this year’s session is “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”. Today the labour market is in many ways unequal. Women often have lower salaries and inferior benefits than men. Men are also more often in power positions than women. However, this year’s theme is also important for young girls and not only adult women. Reports by The Adolescent Girls Advocacy and Leadership Initiative indicate that teenage girls represent the most economically vulnerable group in the world. Above all the problem remains that women and girls do a lot more unpaid work, like taking care of the household and the family. In many cases this workload leads to girls having to leave school, which contributes to the fact that women in many cases can only find unqualified occupations because of their lack of education. Other issues that girls face are labour and sexual exploitation, child marriage and trafficking.
Girls who are given the opportunity to become economically independent increase their chances of becoming independent in other aspects of life as well, such as increased control over one’s own decisions, body and life choices. To make girls aware of the meaning of independence and economic empowerment in early ages enables equality in older ages. Real change in women’s economic empowerment can be achieved only when girls are empowered.
It is therefore vital that the girl perspective is included and represented in discussions on economic empowerment during CSW. We need to create change both for girls in the present and in the future. It is important to listen to girls themselves and not only have adults speak for them. This is a message that the Girl Child Plattform wants to spread during the upcoming session, as girls are experts on issues that concern girls. To do this we will bring with us 17 people from our member organizations who work with the girl-perspective, and spread the material we have collected from our campaign GirlSmart (Tjejkunnig in Swedish), where girls have sent in their thoughts on what needs to change in society for girls. Girls are experts on girls and their voices need to be heard.