To celebrate the United Nations Month, Ateneo de Iloilo had a series of activities to highlight the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I was chosen to represent 5-Bellarmine to the United Nations Plenary Speaking Contest, a competition which required us to deliver a speech as UN Ambassadors appearing before the UN assembly.
It was a dream come true for me because since I was 7 years old, I have already thought about being a UN Ambassador in the future. Luck would have it that I was tasked with discussing SDG 5 on Gender Equality. I was ecstatic as I could be like Emma Watson for a day. While I was preparing for the competition, I was able know that women and girls were not always treated fairly and given equal opportunities throughout history but that thankfully, the world is at a turning point because people everywhere are finally understanding and supporting the idea of gender equality as it is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
I wrote my speech with this in mind as I realized that what could be more universal and more relevant as a shared objective than the rights of women and girls to enable them to develop and thrive as active citizens of the world.
So on October 25, 2017, I spoke for thousands of women and girls who are deprived of their voices, their rights, their humanity because they are imprisoned and defined by their gender. I spoke for 16-year old Bushra, a mother with wise eyes and a piercing smile who holds in her arms her 9-month-old baby girl in Aleppo. I spoke for 13-year old Princess who is displaced by the crisis in Marawi. I talked about my wish that girls all across the world will be as secured as I am in knowing that my parents do not love me less just because I a daughter and not a son.
I remember standing on the stage, speaking before a crowd, which included judges chosen by the organizers who asked me a question which required me to emphasize on the significance of doing my part in every way I can to bring about gender equality, and feeling all the emotions while I talked about a topic that has always been close to my heart especially that my parents are always explaining to me about how important it is that I grow up being aware of my duties and responsibilities to society. I truly believe that speaking about gender equality is part of the Ateneo culture of training me to be a woman for others - Magis, as what Fr. Joseph Haw always reminds us to be. The fact that I was recognized as the winner is only a bonus for me.
I am always grateful that I go to Ateneo because it does not waver on its obligation to mold its students to be socially aware by allowing us to appreciate the past so that we are adequately prepared for the future. I am also thankful that even just for a day, my school made my dream of becoming a UN Ambassador come true. Eliza Consuelo Bellones /5-Bellarmine