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Statement by Samantha O’Brien O’Reilly, UN Youth Delegate for Ireland

71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Third Committee

Statement by Samantha O’Brien O’Reilly, UN Youth Delegate for Ireland
5th October 2016


Dia dhuit [Translation: Hello] Madame Chair, distinguished delegates.

My name is Samantha O'Brien O'Reilly and I represent over 800,000 Irish young people, many of whom believe that society is becoming a more fractured and divisive space. Over the last three months, we consulted with young people from marginalised groups who recounted the prejudices they face in everyday life, the racist jokes, the side-lining of their cultural identities.

Too often we approach situations purely from our own viewpoint without trying to understand others’ perspectives. We fear what we do not know. We marginalise what we do not understand.

The solution to this is education and integration. We call for civic, social and political education to be made compulsory for all. As UN members, we call upon you to commit to the end of educational segregation, be that based on religious, ethnic or socio-economic grounds.

We need to educate ourselves that the world is an infinitely bigger place than the corner we inhabit. We urge all member states to be courageous and to approach difficult situations from a place of understanding. Look at the recent refugee and migrant situation. How many of our responses to it were borne of fear rather than compassion? We need to focus on what unites us, not what divides us. We need to recognise the common humanity that exists in all citizens of the world.

We thank the UN for the work it has done so far in the area of gender equality but we urge each and every member here today to remember that the battle is far from over. As a young woman, why must I live in a society where I will earn less than my male colleagues, where I will be less likely to be a Parliamentary Representative and where I will be more likely to experience sexual assault, simply by virtue of my gender?

When we hope for a just, sustainable and secure world in the future, remember that this will never be achieved by excluding certain sections of society, be they women, refugees, migrants or any other marginalised group. Build a world that leaves no one behind, but do not just build it for everyone, build it with everyone.

Go raibh maith agat.

[Translation: Thank you]