GLI delegates speak at UN convention

Julia Aizuss

Three girls from the Harvard-Westlake chapter of girls’ rights organization Girls Learn International spoke at and attended events at the 58th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations last week in New York. This year’s theme was Millennium Development Goals, and the CSW addressed the success of a post-2015 agenda made for women and girls in 2000. Parallel events either discussed a particular goal in and of itself or evaluated the progress particular goals had made in the past 14 years, Mazelle Etessami ’14 said.

The global perspective of the CSW drew both Etessami and Tigist Menkir ’14 to the event for the second time, as both had attended either last year or the year before.

“I think the CSW is important for girl delegates because it provides us with a more extensive and more global perspective of the horrible issues we learn about in the classroom and in our clubs,” Menkir said.

“I think it’s such an invaluable experience,” Etessami said. “You learn so much. It’s so important to constantly be educating yourself and doing something about it.”

As three of the 42 GLI delegates at the CSW, Etessami, Menkir and Danielle Brody ’15 had speaking and moderating roles at several side events parallel to the CSW. Brody spoke about bringing discussion of the Millennium Development Goals into the classroom, Etessami delivered a 10-minute speech at a panel event about the missing voice of teenage girls in the Millennium Development Goals and Menkir spoke at a panel celebrating the 10th birthday of GLI.

“I enjoyed the GLI Turns 10 Birthday because of the process of collaborating with the other panelists and people involved in the event,” Menkir said. “It was animating to hear [First Lady of New York City] Chirlane McCray speak about her own experiences with girls and women’s rights advocacy.”

They also toured the UN, monitored sessions ranging from the topic of girls in STEM to a documentary about human trafficking in India to issues the students weren’t even aware of before, like the adverse effect of climate change on women directly at the UN and attended several events while serving as “GLI ambassadors.”

“It was really stimulating to learn more about issues and awareness-fostering initiatives which I had little knowledge of before,” Menkir said.

“It was very inspiring and heartwarming just to see how many people actually do care,” Etessami said. “So many people dedicate their entire lives to bettering the world, and it is so terrifying to see how despite that evil is so pervasive and so hard to overcome. We have to help or else we’re just being complacent.”

Click here to read Mazelle Etessami’s first-person piece about her experiences at the conference.