Last month, Barbadian Gender Rights Advocate and Founder of the regional Life In Leggings movement, Ronelle King attended the The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum at the United Nations’s Headquarters in New York City.
The Forum which took place from 25 to 27 April 2023 in a hybrid format provided a platform for young people to engage in dialogues with government representatives, youth delegates, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in civil society and the private sector to voice their views, concerns and galvanize actions on how to transform the world into a fairer, greener and more sustainable place guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As one of the recently appointed 17 UN-recognized Young Leaders for the SDGs, an initiative by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ronelle King attended the forum to speak on the importance of youth engagement in achieving the SDGs. She had the opportunity to meet and engage with the 9th UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, the President of the 77th General Assembly, Mr. Csaba K?rösi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, and Administrator of the UN Development Program, Mr.Achim Steiner.
During the forum Ms. King, who is also a member of the UN Youth Advisory Group for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, served as a panelist in several plenaries throughout the three-day event. She highlighted the vital role that young people play in advancing the SDGs and the importance of investing in youth as agents of change for sustainable development. She underscored the need for young people to be active participants in shaping policies and actions to address issues related to sustainable development citing the importance of youth voices and the immense potential that young people have in shaping a fair and equitable future for all.
As a part of the programme for the ECOSOC Youth Forum, a set of interactive spotlight sessions were organized to highlight the SDG Young Leaders views on various topics interlinked with the SDGs 6, 7, 9, 11, and 17.
For the spotlight session on Peace and Prosperity which took place on April 26th (3-3.15 pm EDT), she delivered a speech. The session which built on the current architecture of the Youth, Peace, and Security agenda (YPS agenda) focused on the interlinkages of peace and prosperity and SDG 17 focusing on partnerships, this session provided a dynamic platform for her and her fellow Young Leaders to share their views and recommendations.
As a passionate advocate for women’s rights and the founder of the Pink Parliament initiative, Ms. King spoke to the need to increasing youth participation in decision-making spaces, particularly young women and girls, emphasizing that there is no peace & prosperity without gender justice.
She shared staggering statistics such as 50% of the world’s population is under 30, 2.6% of the world’s Parliamentarians are under 30 and less than 1% of these young Members of Parliament are women.
In her speech she highlighted that young women and girls all around the world faced barriers in seeking to meaningfully participate in decision-making spaces due to intersecting barriers based on both their age and gender. That at the current rate of progress, it is estimated that it will take up to 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace, and at least 40 years to achieve equal representation in national parliaments, however young women and girls of today simply could not afford to wait.
The Youth Forum sought to address the theme of ECOSOC and the 2023 UN High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) on “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at levels”.
The 2023 ECOSOC Youth Forum is convened by the President of ECOSOC and co-organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the Office of the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, in collaboration with the United Nations Inter Agency Network on Youth Development (IANYD), and co-convened by the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) and the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO), with technical inputs from youth-led and youth-focused organizations relevant to the theme of the forum.