This week marks the beginning of the 58th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD58) which will take place at the United Nations from February 10th to the 19th. This year is especially important because it’s the 75th anniversary of the Commission and the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. The year 2020 is an essential year in achieving inclusive communities and reducing inequalities throughout the world.
The Permanent Mission of Ireland did just this on February 11th during their first side event of the Commission. During Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason’s opening statement she focused on the importance in providing children, especially young girls, with an adequate education, one where they can thrive and succeed in life. Ambassador Nason said one statement that really caught my attention: “Boys and men have their rights and nothing more, girls and women have their rights and nothing less.” This really struck me because young women and girls really go through life thinking that they’re not enough and in some parts of the world, like second-class citizens. Women cannot lead if they’re being held back because both education and equality go hand in hand.
Ireland sees the importance of education in the lives of young people and is calling for all Member States to take five steps towards gender equality in education: “she has a desk,” “she is confident,” “she learns the skills she needs,” “she is safe,” and “she is healthy.” The goal behind these five transformative actions is to get adolescent girls in school so that they can have a quality education. “She has a desk,” which is the guarantee that every girl will be able to receive at least twelve years of free and quality education. “She is confident,” is where the program bridges the gap between boys and girls; they teach boys that they should be helping girls succeed and not tearing them down, and it also helps school environments be more supportive of young women. “She learns the skills she needs,” is to strengthen the training of educators to be able to prove girls with leadership training. “She is safe,” is to ensure that every girl is safe from violence while in school and in the surrounding school environment; trying to make the school environment a safe zone for children. “She is healthy,” is the goal to keel girls health and in school by providing all the basic necessities to ensure that girls thrive in their schooling years.
Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, Bono (frontman of U2), and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres attended the event to help launch the Drive for Five. Mr. Guterres stresses that education is a necessary tool for the success of society as a whole; it would give young women and girls the tools that they need to get themselves out of poverty and to succeed. He also stated that gender equality would not be possible in society without the active role of women. Ms. Robinson and Bono both expressed their support for Ireland’s Drive for Five and stressed that in order for our world to succeed, everyone needs to band together in order to ensure that girls are not being left behind.
It is going to be interesting to see what comes of this initiative and how many Member States actually adopt these five transformative actions or ones similar to it.