As a winner of the World Youth Alliance’s Youth Voices at the UN Program, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the WYA delegation to the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which was held in March 2014. This year’s theme sought to tackle the challenges and achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.
I observed representatives from Member States, civil society, academia and faith-based communities gathered to understand the milestones and failures of the MDG campaign through plenary meetings and side events on various topics. During the discussions, both the panelists and the participants shared their ideas, research outcomes and even personal stories of hope and tragedy.
Despite the efforts of the MDG movement for nearly fifteen years now, reality remains that there is still so much work to be done. One among the challenges that we have not yet overcome is as basic as women and girls’ access to education. I learned from the session that billions of girls and women across the world face various forms of gender-based violence and gender inequality. Since we are in transition towards another development paradigm, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I heard innovative and modern ideas and solutions to address the issues. However, this also reminded me that we must not overlook the fact that education remains to be central, vital and one among the solutions that holds all issues at hand together.
One of the panelists from a side event titled A girl’s right to learn without fear: Working to end School Related Gender Based Violence and make schools safer simplified the magic of education: Access, Quality and Well-being. According to her, access to quality education enables a girl and a woman to know and to stand up for her rights, defend herself, make good choices for her health and be productive for her family and society. Make successful learners so that we are able to have confident individuals that will become effective contributors and responsible citizens to uplift the society.
The World Youth Alliance Charter emphasizes that we are able to achieve a holistic and authentic development through education, for through education we are able to foster a culture of respect and dignity for a human person.
Finally, as we move from the MDGs to the SDGs in 2015, I could not agree more with one of the speakers who summarized the proper response: “First, we don’t erase and start again. Second, we learn from our mistakes. And finally, we keep acting and never give up.”
By Angel de la Flor, Winner, WYA’s Youth Voices at the UN Essay Competition