This month, Intersections team member Rachel McCave participated in two United Nations (UN) events on the role of women and youth in global peacemaking. Despite being among the most vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters, conflict, economic inequality and broader issues of participation and access, women and youth remain underrepresented in conversations around global peacemaking and sustainable development. In our work to meet urgent needs of the world’s most marginalized communities, Intersections is part of a global network of civil society organizations that aims to empower and give voice to women and youth as essential drivers for social change. The two events highlighted below are part of this important work.
On Tuesday, July 21, the UN hosted a virtual high-level meeting on gender equality, led by experts from UN Women, the office of the President of the UN General Assembly and civil society organizations. Participants from around the world tuned in to discuss the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a global policy framework for the rights of women, and its impact on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The virtual meeting provided a crucial update on the progress that the UN and the international community have made in achieving gender equality and advancing the rights of women and girls around the world. As a result of the coronavirus-related cancellation of the 64th annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year, civil society organizations like Intersections increasingly rely on these virtual gatherings to learn, connect and coordinate around issues of female empowerment. Major takeaways from this most recent meeting include: 1) the need for a more inclusive understanding of feminist advocacy that includes non-binary and LGBT individuals, 2) an emphasis on the intersectionality of other social issues with issues affecting women and 3) the need to educate and include men as vital allies in dismantling patriarchy.
On Thursday, July 23, Rachel McCave represented Intersections on a panel for the Youth Initiative Launch Talk, led by the United Nations Offices of the Women’s Federation for World Peace International (WFWP). The panel focused on UN Security Council Resolution 2250 2015 (UNSCR 2250)—the first of its kind to point out the integral role of youth (people ages 18-29) at all levels of peacemaking: local, national and international. Panelists and participants discussed the UN’s youth, peace and security agenda, laid out in UNSCR 2250, and its relationship to the UN’s women, peace and security agenda, derived from ten different UN Security Council Resolutions and various additional norms. As a result of the intersecting nature of these two agendas, the event identified the need to involve more young women as vital actors in global peacemaking processes as a clear action item. Additional takeaways from the engaged discussion include the need to emphasize capacity building and equip youth with necessary tools to take action, strengthen values within the family unit and lead with love in order to foster mutual understanding as a mechanism for conflict resolution. Rachel highlighted Intersections’ work of supporting small organizations in the Middle East, North America and Africa that are focused on helping women and youth, such as the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, Sakhi for South Asian Women in the United States, Imprezza Academy in Kenya and Pathfinders Justice Initiative in Nigeria, amongst many others. Rachel particularly emphasized our efforts of empowering women of faith as leaders in global peacemaking—an important contribution to bringing the resolution to life in tangible, meaningful ways.