Third year girls from secondary schools in Glasgow are celebrating as their Girls@COP26 event recently took home a prestigious international award for innovation and youth education.
The Sister Cities International award has been given to Sister Cities Association in Pittsburgh that joined with the council, Glasgow Caledonian University's Mary Robinson Centre for Climate Justice and Women of the World (WOW) Foundation, to give girls a voice during the United Nations COP26 climate change summit, in the city, last year.
The award is in recognition of the outstanding work done in advancing the goals and mission of the Sister Cities organisation, who work with members across the United States to play a part in creating a more peaceful world through people-to-people exchanges and initiatives.
These collaborative exchanges happen in arts and culture, business and trade, youth and education, and community development that not only bring friendship, but help tackle the world's most pressing issues, such as the climate emergency, at a local level.
Across the two-week conference, in November, more than 2500 S3 pupils participated in Girls@COP26 - The Solutions are Feminist, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Schools joined forces to discuss the global issues around environment and gender - UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 - alongside other female related issues including health and challenges that can affect women and girls' bodies.
They discussed a range of themes like climate action, culture, fashion, everyday living and women's contribution to society, keynote speakers, including former Irish President Dr Mary Robinson, and a panel of experts. Each topic was discussed from the point of view of how woman and girls' lives are disproportionately impacted, challenges faced and what can be done to facilitate change, empower women and build resilience.
Bailie Annette Christie, Convener for Culture, Sport and International Relations, said: "The Solutions are Feminist conference, in partnership with GCU and Women of the World (WOW), was the ideal platform for Glasgow's female voices to be heard, influence change and make an impact - pupil voice is very strong in Glasgow's schools and COP26 provided the perfect platform for the girls' opinions to be shared.
"This is a great honour and recognises not only the success of the event but also our partnership with Pittsburgh, a fairly recent connection and one that we hope to strengthen in the future."
Professor Tahseen Jafry, Director of the Mary Robinson Centre for Climate Justice, said: "The success of Girls@CoP26 is testimony to the pupils who took part and engaged so enthusiastically in the event.
"I am so proud of what they have achieved together with all the partners involved in delivering such an ambitious two-week programme. I am delighted that our work has been recognised and I look forward to our continuing collaboration."
Kathy Risko, Executive Director, Sister Cities Association of Pittsburgh, said: "Sister Cities Pittsburgh was very proud to partner with Girls@COP26 to engage Glasgow youth in important climate conversations. We are energised by our sister relationship with Glasgow and look forward to future collaborations and exchanges between our two cities".
In another connection, Glasgow also entered into a partnership agreement with the Pennsylvanian city in November 2020, ahead of hosting COP26. For the city it was the obvious choice to team up as the cities share a similar past and present. Both are driven by knowledge, academic richness and innovation that draws on that industrial past. For Pittsburgh this was steel and Glasgow, shipbuilding.
This partnership will focus on knowledge exchange between the cities and policies, programmes and projects that we will be able to develop in a bid to tackle climate change, racial injustice, and social inequality.