September 2003-September 2004
Another rewarding year as your representative to UNICEF! I have continued to work with the NGO Working Group on Girls (WGG) – an organization dedicated to promoting the self-esteem, equality and rights of girls in all areas and stages of their lives. This group is composed of some 65 NGOs with representation at the UN. It communicates with the International Network for Girls (INfG) – an organization of nearly 800 mainly grassroots NGOs working in more than 100 countries. We meet from autumn through spring. Our general meetings are attended by 25-35 members and are held once a month. Incidentally, the backgrounds and dedication of our members, some of whom come to the meetings from far away distances, is truly remarkable. One of our past co-chairs, a professor at Temple University, continues to travel from Philadelphia and the editor of our newsletter, a nun, drives from Baltimore!!
For simplicity’s sake, the work of the Working Group on Girls can be divided into four segments: Publications; Advocacy; Website; and Participation in Meetings and conferences. I continue to be a member of the Newsletter Committee where I write articles, and assist the editor in editing each issue, published in both English and Spanish. In the latest edition, scheduled to be available momentarily, I wrote an article on a Speakout entitled, “Indigenous Girls speak Out on Their Concerns,” a workshop that our group co-sponsored with the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. Three thirteen-year olds and one older panel member, from Indian reservations around the world, were brought to the UN to discuss their lives at home and their problems were strikingly similar. The audience was impressed with the poise, dignity, and maturity of the panelists and agreed that we need to promote more such Speak Outs. Additional workshops were held on topics such as the education of girls, eradicating poverty and hunger, men and boys –obstacles or partners in girls’ empowerments, as was a training session on conflict resolution. Furthermore, a brochure entitled: “Empowering Girls to Beat HIV/AIDS” was published; over 200 requests for the brochure have been made from the website. See wggs [at] girlsrights.org
The Working Group on Girls is fortunate to have a very strong, proactive Advocacy Task Force and members of the committee visited the UN missions of a number of countries during the past year. Our goal was to learn about all aspects of girls’ lives in the particular country to which we were assigned to acquaint Mission diplomats with our goals. I had the opportunity of visiting the New Zealand Mission to the UN. The diplomat with whom I spoke was very hospitable, gave me an enlightening briefing on the situation of girls in New Zealand, including those in the indigenous area and indicated that he wanted to continue the relationship.