Filipina teen tapped for humanitarian summit in Istanbul
BANGKOK – A Filipina teenager was chosen as the youngest delegate and speaker during the Women’s Month Summit held in Bangkok on International Women’s Day last month. Now, she is set to represent the world’s youth the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May.
“On International Women’s Day, March 8, the United Nations Volunteers met Chloe Reynaldo, a 15-year-old activist from the Y-PEER Pilipinas Network, to discuss gender equality,” recalls Liviana Zorzi, the Program Officer on Transparency, Accountability and Anti Corruption of United Nations Development Program.
“During our conversation Reynaldo spoke about her vision of a world free from prejudice and gender discrimination,” Zorzi explains. “Chloe strongly believes in the power of young people to bring about change, that critical and independent thinking, curiosity and courage to step-up for justice are essential to make ‘the world we want’ a reality,”
Chloe Reynaldo had attended a Youth Health Summit sponsored by Provincial Population and Gender Office of Aklan as a representative of Science High School where she was in Grade 9. From then on, she attended a series of training and started speaking at high schools on adolescent sexuality.
“No one really influenced me. It means that the things I learn and the things I speak about really come from me, and aren’t something I just picked up from someone else,” she says.
Chloe believes that her activism is due to her being a girl because girls are the most vulnerable in the world populations both in times of war and famine.
“I’ve always considered gender as a sensitive area, which may be why I was so curious about it, but I believe that precisely because of my position, I can understand its issues best and want more strongly for my advocacy to succeed and be heard,” Chloe says.
Chloe’s effort was noticed by the United Nations Asia Pacific (UNAP). She was chosen as the youngest delegate and speaker during the Women’s Month Summit held in Bangkok on March 8.
Being the youngest delegate and panelist representing the youth of the world, she was proud and at the same time humbled by the experience. All of the panelists are experts in their fields and she was one girl with a booming voice giving her perspective as a youth.
“It’s just that I’m one of the few who’ve been given a platform and an opportunity to actually be heard. I believe that the people have reacted positively to what I say – and that they agree with the fact that the youth need to be involved more. It’s encouraging to see all these influential people agreeing with my opinion, because that shows how willing they are to begin utilizing the youth, something that I think is overdue,” Chloe explains.
Chloe is a member Y-PEER Pilipinas, a youth peer education network initiated by UNFPA. It is a network of youth organizations representing the youth sector and regions of the Philippines. Its members include young people, active peer educators, trainers and youth advocates for adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
“I want youth to look at me and say, ‘If she can do that, then I can, too!’ I want adults to look at me and say, ‘If she can do that, then my child can, too!’,” she explains. “Youth need to be motivated – adults need to support and cultivate the next generation. I want that perspective to be present whenever we’re discussing the voice of the youth.”
Chloe believes that there are a lot of opportunities for young people to participate in governance, and she believes that youth should not be afraid to claim that.
First world humanitarian summit
“By speaking out we ensure that our issues are addressed. Little by little. It will not happen overnight,” she says.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited Chloe to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23-24, “to tackle one of the most fundamental and pressing issues of our time, including humanitarian crises and the on-going oppressions and discrimination among women and girls.”
“ My advocacy is not limited specifically to just women’s rights – after all, when I discuss sexual health of the youth, my audience and target of concern includes boys as well – but it’s a very crucial part of it. So yes, I’d say I’m a feminist,” Chloe concludes.
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