Mandy Sharp is a Global Citizenship Fellow at the U.S. Fund for UNICEFâ€™s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.
Over the past six months that I served as a Global Citizenship Fellow for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, I have met many students eager to take action on complex global issues. This month, I joined nearly 400 Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world at the 2012 Girlsâ€™ World Forum in Chicago who had gathered to mobilize around the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1, 3 and 7.Â Â Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from more than 80 countries came together with a common goalâ€”to take action on three of the most prominent global issues of our time:Â eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, promote gender equality and empower women, and ensure environmental sustainability.
I was invited to participate as a facilitator for the MDG sessions. I still feel overwhelmed as I reflect on the magnitude of this gathering and the opportunity it created forÂ UNICEF and the Girl Scouts to take action. As I facilitated a discussion on poverty, eachÂ participant shared new perspectives about poverty in her country and told of the disparities she witnesses. Each young womanâ€”whether from Antigua, Georgia, Liberia or the United Statesâ€”proposed a solution to global poverty.
Translators joined the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in the Advocacy Expo, where dozens of organizations shared resources to support the MDG Take Action plan. Hundreds of girls approached the U.S. Fund for UNICEF table, eager to learn, gather resources, and ask questions. Several young women approached the table and shared stories ofÂ UNICEF’s work in their own communities. Their graciousness for UNICEFâ€™s presence and stories of personal participation in UNICEFâ€™sÂ programsÂ were a reflection of our inter-connected world. ThisÂ reaffirmed that global citizenship is essential to UNICEFâ€™sÂ work to ensure child survival.
On the final day of discussing action plans, one young woman raised her hand.
â€śI have an idea,â€ť she said. â€śWhat if, instead of focusing on only our own communities and countries, we all took action together? Imagine the global impact we could have if we took action together on the same goal.â€ť
Around the roomÂ participants nodded in agreement, affirming that exploring global citizenship did not end at the closing ceremony of the Girls’ World Forum. Instead, the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides will continue to take global action in personally meaningful ways to help tackle the most prevalent global issues facing our worldâ€”hopefully until the Millennium Development Goals are achieved.