Youth statement delivered by Stacey Mdala from Malawi on the occasion of opening ceremony of CSW68 New York


Allow me to stand on the existing protocols already acknowledged. Madam president, excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Stacey Mdala, from Malawi. This morning, I will be speaking to you on the notion that the youth count, the future is now.

I have worked with young women and men from diverse backgrounds and one thing I have realized is that we relate to each other’s challenges. We are all still finding our way through long-standing inequalities birthed from discrimination, lack of financing, lack of support and a voice.

To this day, so many young people fail to access education because of poverty, early marriages, sex preferences, etc. Our programmes and interventions struggle with funding and a lack of recognition for their importance. Young women and girls are disproportionately affected by these issues.

Distinguished guests, this year’s CSW implores us on a quest to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. It is the role of each of us here to contribute toward this in our different capacities. I urge you to make a deliberate effort to support us young people, taking into account our diversities and needs.  We want to be protected against all forms of discrimination, harmful cultural and religious practices and harassment.  Most importantly, we want to be heard.

In the last decade, we have seen many brilliant rising stars, talk of Malawian Nthanda Manduwi a digital savvy, women’s rights advocate and entrepreneur; Zimbabwean Varaidzo Vee Kativhu - a young education activist and founder of Empowered by Vee, Temilade Salami Olanrewaju - a climate justice activist from Nigeria.  This only shows that we are willing to put in the work for the future we want to see. We want to work with you and want you to support our different programs by funding our initiatives and co-creating policies in all our diverse and intersectional identities.

As the world is being digitized with new technologies emerging by day, let us empower our women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by investing in and financing digital skills trainings. Ladies and gentlemen, I am standing here as the girl child’s voice saying we want equity in allocation of these resources and equality in all opportunities. Empower young women and girls, be their allies and not opponents, supporters not crusaders. As former president Barrack Obama said, “empowering a woman isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do”.

I’d like you to sit and reflect this morning on how you have been supporting and uplifting the youth individually or in your work units. The reality on the ground is that we are barely including the youth in major decision-making processes. Young people are barely ever in policy making spaces, and rarely at tables where important economic, political, social, including health – system related decisions are made. 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let us join hands advocating for inclusive legislations, policies and programmes to address existing inequalities.

We are demanding that we are included in all areas of development and at all levels because we are the future and the future is now.

With these few remarks, allow me to take my leave.

Thank you, gracias, asante sana, ndatenda, zikomo kwambili!