Two of our Year 13 students have recently returned from New York after representing the UK as delegates of the National Council of Women Great Britain at CSW61 (the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 61).

Jenny Raw and Rachel Wibberley in Year 13, were specially invited to join the delegation in the Big Apple at this prestigious occasion at the beginning of March.

The pair spent a week attending a variety of conferences, forums and discussions as part of the event – as well as taking to the podium to share their own views in speeches delivered before influential guests and dignitaries. Rachel spoke about the importance of empowering girls and young women in the workplace at the start of the week, and Jenny delivered her speech on economic empowerment on the final day.

Their trip kicked off with the CSW Youth Forum, which focuses on tackling gender equality in young people across the world. As well as highlighting the incredible injustices suffered by girls, there was a stress on the particular importance of spreading the message to boys and young men too. Jenny and Rachel had sought the views of other girls by inviting them to contribute ideas for the Youth Statement which was read out at the start of proceedings. They did this via their blog which they updated throughout the trip.

During the event, the girls also met the team behind the UK Mission to the UN where they were given an insight into the negotiations that take place inside the UN and with fellow countries. They met members of the UK Parliament Baroness Fiona Hodgson and Baroness Hillary Armstrong, and also Helene Reardon-Bond, who is responsible for the equality strategy and legislation across government, and Hilary Spencer, Director of the Government Equalities Office.

Despite being hit by the snowy Storm Stella during their visit stateside, on their final day Jenny took to the podium at an event sponsored by the International Council of Women, focusing on women’s leadership in transformative politics.

Rachel and Jenny were chosen to travel to New York as a result of their work with the National Council of Young Women (NCYW) – an organisation formed in 2008 which represents young women at a national level, working with the well-established National Council of Women to lobby government on issues that young women care about.

The opportunity was made possible by the funding and support of the school and the Girls’ Day School Trust – another example of how being part of the GDST family has so much to offer.

Nottingham Girls’ High School’s well-established NCYW group meets regularly and plans events such as marking the International Day of the Girl, Human Rights Day and International Women’s Day.
Jenny, who is also Head Girl, said: “Representing the National Council of Women Great Britain at the UN has been an amazing opportunity. Reflecting on our time there really reinforces how much of a fantastic time we had, how much we learnt, and how much we hope to implement now that we have returned.”

Looking to the future, Jenny added: “We must be the agents of change. We must think of ourselves, as young women, as the potential future Secretary General of the United Nations or Prime Minister of the UK. The overall message we took away from this event is that we must not restrict ourselves based on societal views or traditions. Once women are empowered within themselves, they have the ability to empower others through transformative politics.”

Julie Keller, who accompanied the girls to New York, said: “The trip was a fantastic opportunity for the students and we all had a great and busy time in New York. It was amazing to see them both play an integral part in the conference and meet a variety of inspirational and influential role models. I am sure it has spurred them on further with their work with the National Council of Young Women.”