March 13, 2014 (C-FAM) – Who speaks for youth? Catholic teens are wondering after participating in a Girl Scouts meeting to collect young women’s opinions on the new goals that will steer UN policy – and billions of dollars in aid – for years to come.
“We were just a ‘means to an end,’” said one young lady. “All they wanted was for us to validate their point.”
The UN is undergoing a lengthy process to determine new goals on poverty and development. Many say young people’s opinions should be included and a number of groups are stepping forward to speak for youth. This week the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) held a meeting to hear from young women and adults were not allowed.
“It was initially cool to encounter all of the girls from different places and with different accents,” said Ave Fouriezos, She had traveled to New York with a team of Catholic teens for an annual UN conference on women.
But it “quickly became uncomfortable when we were split into small groups and asked to propose three areas of women’s rights.”
To the girls’ surprise, a WAGGGS’ paper was handed out listing specific goals the group is already lobbying for. “Comprehensive health” features “confidential and non-judgemental [sic] sexual and reproductive health services for all” – a priority for abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and the UN Population Fund.
Each small group included representatives from WAGGGS. The “team leaders were outspoken and even aggressive about their beliefs, so it was very overwhelming,” said Ave.
When Ave tried to explain her views on sexual health and abortion, “my opinion was disregarded. It was obvious that my opinion didn’t matter because it didn’t comply with the WAGGGS’ agenda.”
In another group, a WAGGGS leader said “access to contraception” should be in the UN’s goals. One teen, Lauren Downes, explained this was controversial and suggested changing it to “education in contraception.”
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The other participants “sort of agreed with me,” Lauren said. But then the dynamic changed. Soon “every girl in the group wouldn’t listen to me, wouldn’t respect me, and slowly pushed me out of the circle. I didn’t feel welcomed and I didn’t feel like I had a voice.”
In another group, one girl “had many good ideas about how to improve the Girl Guide’s statement,” said Emily Cross, “but they completely ignored and disrespected her.”
A UN world survey of nearly 1.5 million people found the priorities of youth under age 30 are education, healthcare, jobs, food, sanitation, protection against crime and violence, and honest government.
WAGGGS sparked a firestorm in 2010 after a sexually provocative Planned Parenthood brochure was distributed at one of their events at the UN. The Girl Scouts USA works with the WAGGGS team at the UN.
The Girl Scouts USA denied any involvement, however the event prompted the launch of numerous websites protesting the leftward drift of the Girl Scouts and an ongoing reform movement including a boycott of Girl Scout cookies going on now.
In 2013, the UN Population Fund orchestrated a Global Youth Conference that released the “Bali Declaration” telling countries to provide abortion and recognize the “sexual rights” of youth. Several participants complained the meeting was manipulated and “tokenistic.” The UN later declined to recognize the Bali Declaration.
WAGGGS played an active role in the Bali breakout sessions.
Reprinted with permission from C-FAM