Each year the United Nations brings women and girls from around the world together at an annual conference to discuss pressing issues related to gender equality worldwide called the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
During CSW, women and girls meet with leaders, Member States, and UN policymakers to talk about issues they are facing and how we can work together to tackle gender inequality and other issues women and girls face because of gender inequality. This year is the 67th session of CSW, and the priority theme is innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
GOA Girl Delegates were active in this year’s 67th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. The girls advocated directly to UN member state representatives, discussed important issues with members of UN Agencies and Civil Society, and participated in the following advocacy efforts:
Each year, girl delegates at the CSW come together to draft a Girls’ Statement to be formally presented to the Commission by girls and on behalf of girls. This statement is girl-led and calls attention to issues girls face and outlines recommendations for Member States to implement to advance gender equality and ensure girls’ rights.
Demetra Chudley of Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton was nominated as a core group leader where she was responsible for developing the draft of the CSW66 girls’ statement, collecting feedback from other girl participants and incorporating that feedback into a final draft. The statement was read to member state representatives at CSW.
Girls’ Caucus is a public forum for girls to discuss the progress at the Commission on the Status of Women regarding the interests and needs of girls. Caucus allows girls to review the Zero Draft and various drafts of the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission, propose edits and new language as it relates to girls, and develop advocacy strategies for CSW and beyond.
Evangelina Benakis of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on the Upper West Side was part of the girls’ caucus leaders, drafting and editing proposed language to the Agreed Conclusions, and led small group breakout sessions during the Public Girls Caucus.
The global conversation circle was a virtual international space for girls to engage in productive dialogue around this year’s theme of innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, its impact on girls and come up with ways for collaborative advocacy within their communities and globally. Its aim is to increase the visibility and amplify girls’ voices worldwide to encourage their participation and leadership in the political process in local, national, and global arenas.
Anna Kira Poneros of the Cathedral of St. John The Theologian in Tenafly, New Jersey, moderated the conversation. The small group facilitators included Xanthi Lazarakis and Beatriz Fino Morfogen of Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton, New York, and Evangelina Benakis of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in New York, NY.
In their small groups, the girls discussed leadership and participation, gender bias and STEM awareness, education and training, and the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on technology.
The outcomes of these fruitful conversations will be included in the report for submission to the Global Digital Compact.
Youth Morning Briefing
Morning Briefings during the CSW are spaces where civil society, UN agencies, and Member States can come together to share the state of play as developments within the Commission and the outcome document negotiation process unfold. The Youth Morning Briefing created a space where young people heard how Member States integrated youth issues into the CSW and the outcome document process.
Beatriz Fino Morfogen of Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Southampton participated with young people from around the world to share their suggestions and unique perspectives on the Commission priority and review themes with Member States.
Virtual Vienna Café
One of the benefits of past CSWs has been the meetings between government delegates and NGO representatives, whether in the Delegates Lounge, the corridors of the UN basement, or the inimitable Vienna Cafe. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic eliminated these possibilities, prompting NGO CSW to recreate them online as virtual meetings at the “Vienna Cafe.”
Demetra Chudley and Evangelina Benakis met virtually with members of Civil Society, UN Agencies, and representatives of Member States. Specifically, Demetra met with the representative of Belgium, where they discussed the lack of digital and media literacy, cyberbullying, digital harassment, and discrimination are common issues girls face in their use of technology and investing in resources and support to girls facing these issues through digital safety training for girls, families, educators, and communities, enforcement of safety guidelines of digital media platforms, and the prioritization of mental health of all girls, recognizing how digital content can impact their health.
Evangelina met with the representative of Denmark, where they discussed the importance of investing in functional electrical systems, telecommunication systems, and networks to ensure that girls in all schools and communities around the globe have access to technological infrastructure to promote digital literacy for all girls, to supplement their learning.
The GOA Girl Delegate Program empowers Orthodox girls from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Parishes to advocate for issues important to them at the United Nations. As a pilot program out of the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations, the GOA Girl Delegate Program will likely expand this year, enabling more girls to join. For more information, please email [email protected].