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Youth Summit Session Two

Panel shot of speakers at UN MUN Youth Summit Session 2

Session Two: “Gender Equality, Standing Up for the SDGs”

[Presentations by students]

"Little Miss Code" (SDGs 4, 5, 10)

Silicon Valley may be famous for its technological innovation, but extreme wealth often comes at a high cost -- inequality. The city ranks third in the nation for unequal distribution of wealth, and one third of inhabitants cannot afford basic needs, noted Charlotte Acra, a sixteen-year-old student in Silicon Valley.

Acra was determined to bridge the educational gap in the California Bay Area. In 2017, she founded Little Miss Code, an organization providing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-centered opportunities to underprivileged youth, especially girls. Over four to eight weeks, participants learn about one of five interdisciplinary STEM classes (coding, website design, design thinking, robotics, and digital moviemaking) not offered at underfunded schools, and the programme culminates with 100% of students completing a “capstone project.” Furthermore, Acra emphasized the programme’s emotional factor: “The most meaningful thing we do is really taking the time to get to know each child and their family.”

Up next is Little Miss Code’s planned expansion to Lebanon, set for the summer of 2019. Acra chose this location because “while many Lebanese private and public schools have opened their doors to refugee children… much more can be done to support the children whose misfortune was to grow up in a time of violence and civil war.”

Stay updated about Little Miss Code via @littlemisscode on Instagram and its website, littlemisscode.org.

“Gender Equity Organization Tampon Drive” (SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 16)

“Suffering from period poverty is a matter of health and dignity and it can affect women in all aspects of their lives,” said Alexandra Duncan, an 18-year-old student from John Burroughs School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Duncan, along with her two co-leaders, Katherine Smith and Nathaniel Doty, presented their “Tampon Drive” project at the Youth Summit to their peers and UN officials.

The project started with the Gender Equity Organization (GEO) Club at John Burroughs School four years ago. The annual tampon drive works to provide greater access to menstrual products and to educate communities to contribute to the end of “period poverty”.

Duncan, Smith, and Doty began by defining period poverty, a concept that many people are not familiar with. Period poverty is the inability to access or afford menstrual hygiene products.

“Not only are menstrual products expensive with a lifetime supply in the US costing 18,000 dollars, they are not even sold in some countries,” said Duncan.

The presenters further emphasized the consequences of period poverty. Women are at risk of major health issues when they do not have access to feminine hygiene products. Smith said, “Globally 131 million school age girls are not in school when period poverty is a contributing factor… In the U.S., 20% of girls miss school on a monthly basis due to their periods.” Smith went on to remind attendees of the importance of education. “According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, education is an inherent human right.”

Doty went on to discuss the other side of their project -- educating communities about periods. Doty remarked that the stigma surrounded periods was just as harmful as the actual cost of menstruation products. “We can do nothing to end period poverty unless we become okay with periods themselves,” Doty said.

The presenters went on to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that their tampon drive aims to solve. Their target goals included SDGs One, Three, Four, Five, Six, Ten, and Sixteen.

The group ended by imploring others to implement a menstruation product drive in their communities. They suggested donating to local women’s organizations and reaching out to as many people as possible.

Doty ended the presentation by stating, “Period poverty is a matter of women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”

You can follow the GEO Tampon Drive on Instagram @jbs.geo.