Achieving Progress for All: Youth, Women and the Post-2015 Landscape

March 26, 2014|by Tiffany Taylor, U.S. Youth Observer
Last Friday, the 58th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) ended, and the results of the “Youth, Women and the Post-2015 Landscape” survey are in! This survey was distributed in order to help me gain a better understanding of how youth feels about the issues being discussed in CSW and then relay this understanding back to as many people as I could. During the past two weeks of CSW, discussions focused on problems including extreme poverty and hunger, environmental policy, human trafficking, and the role of culture and arts in sustainable development. Also important were the discussions pertaining to the disproportionately large amount of women facing the world’s problems when compared to men. Everyone I met, spoke to, and learned from at CSW realized the ways in which gender inequality and discrimination not only hurt women but all groups.

csw-delegate-usyouthDuring CSW, the idea of a “development emergency” was discussed numerous times. This is defined as an “emergency for women and girls… it is girls who are most likely to be poor, hungry, illiterate, or sick.” For example, although women and girls are only, roughly speaking, half of the world’s population, they form the majority of those that are hungry and poor. In the countries that are gaining more economic prosperity every year, such as in South Asia, “women are getting a shrinking share of income as the economy grows.” Regarding health, the statistics are similar: research now shows that in Africa, “women now account for 75% of all young people living with HIV and AIDS.” [1]

Over 115 people globally answered the survey, providing their thoughts on issues pertaining to youth, women, and the post-2015 landscape. 22% of the respondents were men and the rest identified themselves as women. The respondents overwhelmingly believed that the challenges facing both young men and women differ. Respondents believed the greatest challenge facing women was gender discrimination and inequality, at a whopping 75.86%. More than 47% of the respondents believed that the greatest challenge facing men was extreme poverty and hunger. Overall the respondents believed that the greatest challenge facing youth was the lack of access to universal education. Furthermore, the vast majority of participants also believed that women should hold at least 50% of leadership positions in their country.

There is no doubt that the lack of access to universal education among youth is a huge hindrance to the growth of a country. Given that educational equality is strongly linked the economic growth of a country, it is imperative that both young women and men have equal opportunities to pursue a quality education.[2] 

Throughout the world, many youth are taking on the responsibility of encouraging organizations, businesses, and governments to provide more quality education. For example, the Asante Africa Foundation is an organization inspired by youth that believes educating children can change lives. They provide educational programs, mentorship, and scholarships to thousands of Africans throughout eastern Africa and are currently expanding. Another organization, Scholarship Junkies, founded and run by young people, helps high school and college students in the United States apply for financial aid and scholarships for free, whereas other companies charge hundreds for the same services.

Globally, youth are getting involved and volunteering their time to create positive and lasting change. Ultimately the survey showcased that while there are many challenges being faced by youth, lack of access to universal education, particularly among women and girls, is both a timely and imperative issue to tackle. Luckily, youth are tackling this issue globally and every day!

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