Yesterday, Tuesday February 21st, 2023 from 9am-12pm EST UN Women convened a Pre-CSW67 (Commission on the Status of Women) Virtual Youth Forum to discuss a set of Global Youth and Adolescent Recommendations.
Less than 12 hours before the consultation UN Women shared the draft Recommendations with registrants. WYA and its outstanding team of global advocacy leaders were able to read this quickly to prepare for involved discussion and participation. Key problems included:
- Uplifting the “Generation Equality Forum, and recognizing its 5-year action journey.” – This forum did not have the support of all member states and was mostly attended by civil society. Its “action journey” pushes for legal abortion, CSE, etc.
- Mandating universal quality, accessible Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) – Many states oppose CSE because of its controversial content. International law does not mandate CSE. Each state is free to determine their own sex education.
- Including a focus on “young women, girls, and gender diverse youth, in all their diversity and intersectional identities.” – This language has no UN consensus and ignores many states’ constitutions which include specific definitions of sex.
Despite highlighting inclusion and diversity as a key aim of the process, WYA’s director of Advocacy was twice removed and blocked from participating in the call. Our South Sudanese member was also removed.
Our participant from Tunisia spoke against the inclusion of CSE, but was not allowed to finish. “They cut me off saying that they have no time and mentioned going back to the main room.”
What “diverse” voices was UN Women trying to capture? WYA participants were from India, South Sudan, Nigeria, Philippines, Tunisia and the United States.
How can UN Women claim that these recommendations speak for all youth and adolescents? WYA represents a significant contingent of youth voices around the world: over 200,000 members between the ages of 10-30; 1 million members if we count the partnerships with our affiliated organizations!
In silencing WYA, UN Women ignored its own Youth Recommendations. Page 3 calls to involve “all stakeholders…through open, safe, inclusive, accessible, and transparent offline and online consultations.” It calls for ensuring, “the meaningful, substantive, and safe participation and co-leadership of youth… in decision-making spaces including in… the work of UN Agencies…”
As WYA experienced, the space provided by UN Women to gather youth and adolescent inputs was not open, inclusive, accessible or transparent for WYA members, who were either removed from the platform or silenced by moderators.
WYA disassociates itself from the CSW67 Global Youth and Adolescent Recommendations and is prepared to inform member states on the substantive recommendations prepared by its members.
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