Summer 2014 Youth Assembly Day 3

    By Gavin Higbie

    Day three of the International Youth Assembly has unfortunately come and gone. However, it was, of course, an incredible day. Just like the two that came before it. Our day began with a presentation by the young and extremely talented Jake Schwarz, CEO and founder of General Assembly. He explained his background and the rather precarious and uncertain path he took to get to where he is today and how his organization is changing the face of education. General Assembly is a higher education company that focus on technological innovation and is shaped by the changing nature of the employment market. They look at what companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon want in their employees and shape their programs accordingly. This makes it vastly different to a traditional university education and it seems to be very successful. In fact, according to Schwarz more that 90% of their students find employment in their field of interest within 30 days of completing their program. I found this particularly interesting as it showed to me that there is more than one path to success, you don’t have to flow the traditional path of university like everybody says. You can shape your own world

    Microsoft’s Youth Spark panel gave another inspirational presentation during the morning session. They presented Alicia Guevara from Year Up, a program that focuses on giving career training and opportunities for young adults who live in poverty, and Charlotte Stone a representative from Girls Who Code, an organization that educates women in the field of computer programming. Now, both were incredibly interesting but I think it would be best to focus on Girls Who code for the sake of relevance to FAWCO and space. Girls Who Code is trying to close the gender gap in education by targeting a very specific problem. As time has progressed and technology has developed, the percentage of women who study computer science at university has actually decreased. There are a number of reasons for this however, the central factor to this problem is a society that reinforces information technology as a male profession. As a result University programs geared towards computer science are usually male dominated, often making the few women in these classes feel isolated. This is where Girls Who Code comes in. They focus on young women (over two thousand in, fact) and teach them that computer science is nowhere near as hard as it seems. This creates an environment where these girls become motivated to pursue careers with technology, hopefully helping to close the gender gap in this area.

    After a lunch break (that included me being interviewed! Crazy, I know) we returned for our usual afternoon workshop. Today’s workshop focused on increasing youth education worldwide. Today, there are over 50 million children who have no access to education. What’s more, of the children that do attend school, 130 million of them are still unable to read or right after four years. Unfortunately as well 20 percent of girls in the world are denied their right to education because of abuse, forced marriage, working conditions, and social restrictions. With this in mind, the task that they gave us today was much like that of the first day workshop; find a particular are of education that you believe can be improved. Our group decided on young women in school who become pregnant. Due to the social stigma and lack of support for these women they often drop out of school and end up raising a child based on employment with little education. We therefore came up with a program of mentoring that involved mothers and other students as mentors, support groups, and a slightly altered education program that begins from around the time of birth and includes the proceeding months. This once again gave me an opportunity to meet and converse with amazing, kind, and intelligent people who were more than happy to speak with me and share their ideas. It was truly a privilege for me.

    And unfortunately that is all from me. The assembly is over. No longer do I get to walk to the United Nations with a completely delusional sense of importance. It has been a truly unbelievable experience that I am beyond grateful for. I would especially like to thank FAWCO, Sara Von Moos, and My-Linh Kunst, who have had faith in me to be the Youth Representative to the United Nations over the last six months. I hope that I have done the organization proud. This has been a very eye-opening experience that has shown me that the world and the women in it have a lot of struggles, but also that there are amazing people, young and older, that want equality and are willing to go the extra distance to achieve it. So thank you so much for this opportunity, and I hope you enjoyed these posts!

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