“We are all better off when we open doors of opportunity for women and girls: in classrooms and boardrooms, in military ranks and at peace talks, in all aspects of productive life.” Secretary General Antonio Guterres, 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Emma Guthrie spends most of her days as a solicitor in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Property and Infrastructure team. However, for 18 days in March Emma was also in New York as a delegate at the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), attending on behalf of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
When Emma isn’t working on commercial property transactions, she devotes much of her spare time to Girlguiding, where she has been a member for over 20 years. She sees WAGGGS as an important organisation for the advancement of young women in the world today. It is the leading charity in the UK for girls and young women, with over half a million members and operates in 146 countries. It was her role as a member of this organisation that led her to the UNCSW.
“I feel that I have a duty to represent the voice of young women and girls, and in the environment of UNCSW I knew I could be a powerful and knowledgeable advocate for them” Emma said.
While it may have been WAGGGS that initially inspired her to attend, it was Emma’s legal expertise that made her an important member of the delegation.
Emma’s main role at the summit within the WAGGGS delegation was providing her legal expertise in reviewing the agreed conclusions document, and drafting reaction statements on behalf of WAGGGS.
She explains, “My legal background certainly equipped me to analyse and review the policy documents. This was an especially complex task as member states could be pretty particular about the inclusion or exclusion of certain words and phrases. As a solicitor I am aware of how important one word can be, the difference can completely change the intention and application of a legal document.”
At the UNCSW Emma gave an address alongside a representative from the World Bank at an event hosted by Save the Children, which focused on investing in girls and young women. She was also able to swap stories and share her experiences of the corporate environment and the continuing drive in her own workplace to achieve diversity and gender equality.
Emma felt that her work as both a member of WAGGGS and as a solicitor at Shepherd and Wedderburn gave her the necessary knowledge and expertise to make her voice heard at the Commission. She said:
“The experience helped me to develop my understanding of the issues facing gender equality in a number of different contexts. The knowledge gained in New York has been rich and rewarding, greatly benefiting my professional and philanthropic development and providing me with new ideas that will help me to drive gender equality forward.”