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    Summer Youth Assembly, 2014

    Okay everyone, I'm back! After a semester abroad in Chile I am finally back in New York City to represent FAWCO at the International Youth Assembly. Exciting times for me, I wish you could all be here. As you may know I attended the Youth Assembly in February as well (sorry for hogging it from everyone else). It was an incredible experience however, I have to say that the lack of a 'polar vortex' this time around makes this assembly somewhat more enjoyable.

    The morning started with an optimistic energy. Similar to February, we were greeted and briefed by Patrick Sciarratta, Executive Director of the Friendship Ambassador Foundation. It is probably best to think of him as our shepherd through these three days. From there we listened to two warm and welcoming songs by Sophia Angelica and finally got down to business.

    Physical activity seemed to dominate a significant portion of this morning’s discussion. We heard from Gabriela Szabo, the Romanian Minister of Youth and Sport and Dr. Melissa Michaels, founder of Golden Bridge (I need to clarify, but I’m fairly certain that Golden Bridge is a yoga company, she didn’t exactly specify). Both women spoke of the importance of physical activity and movement in the mobilization and insertion of youth in today’s society. Szabo, who beyond being Minister of Sport and Youth is also a gold medalist from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, spoke of how sports can be used to break down the barriers between classes and create a dialogue among youth that not only addresses social issues but can also be used for conflict resolution. Michaels focused on how movement simply as an action can be used by youth to unlock our inner potential and also resolve trauma. Movement, she stated, can be used to address the emotional backlog created by today’s society. Therefore, movement not only mobilizes us to realize goals we wish to achieve, but also allows us to come to terms with previous pains or traumas. She also asked us to take part in what I thought would be an unbearably embarrassing activity. She had us all to stand up and take part in a game of follow the leader.  She made a collection of crazy movements and sounds and expected us to copy her. It actually wasn’t embarrassing at all! Everybody took part and really got into it, which made it a lot easier for me.

    However, what was most important to me and probably to many in this organization was the other morning topic, ‘Youth Driving Change on Gender Inequality’. For this topic, the assembly was addressed by Ravi Karkara, Global Advisor for the World Conference on Youth 2014, and Gerardo Porteny Backal, consultant for the He for She Campaign. Both spoke on the importance of male mobilization in the feminist movement. They stated, quite rightly, that the pursuit of gender equality cannot be exclusively a female movement. Men MUST enter into this dialogue if we wish to see true gender equality. As it stands now, we live in a society where male domination is reinforced through factors such as the media and workplace. This environment won’t change unless men enter this debate and reshape their perspective of society. Therefore, men must bring themselves to the table of the feminist conversation in order to learn and therefore change. I personally don’t believe there is any other way to achieve equality.

    Anyone who wants to get involved in this dialogue should visit the His for Her Campaign website http://heforshe.org and for any university students reading this, you should seriously look at starting a He for She chapter at your school, I know I will be. 

    Anyways, that was just the morning. There will be a lot more to come, so stay posted and email me at if you have any questions! I’ll be updating you as regularly as I can. 



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