In light of all the inspiring events, experiences and people at this year’s CSW, I can certainly say that my knowledge on all aspects of gender equality has broadened immensely. With this knowledge, I feel inspired to make tangible differences in my community and use my action plan to achieve these goals.
The first event of my CSW was a side event as part of the youth caucus, named ‘Man-Up’. I had little idea of what too anticipate or what the focus of the event would be initially. It was predominately ran by Jocelyn Lehrer who was the founder of the Men’s Story Project which is a platform for men to express their experiences of sexism in their own lives, something which can be overlooked in the movement. She noted that gender norms are the root to the sexist issues facing us today and as they are socially created, they can be changed.
Another eye-opening speech was the ‘men and youth working for the abolition of prostitution’. This talk emphasized the ‘Nordic Model’ of prostitution, something previously I knew nothing about. This model looks to decriminalise prostitutes and hold the traffickers, pimps and users to account because as long as the women who are being exploited are blamed, traffickers will continue to capture innocent women and force them into the trade. What’s more, because the judiciary systems and governments of the world are male dominated, the risks for women are much higher if they ever attempted to seek justice for atrocities committed against them.
Possibly the most exciting event of the entire week was the Round Table with Parliamentarians. As youth delegates, we all felt very privileged to have the opportunity to put questions forward to decision makers that directly affected us. Personally, I was able to ask about changes to school syllabuses that had removed female role models and is something I feel passionately about. We had the opportunity at the end to meet and network with the event attendees and the buzz afterwards left us all with a great sense of motivation.
My own talk was at the Women and Water event ran by NAWO and it was a real honour to sit alongside hugely knowledgeable and experienced speakers and I felt each speaker brought a new slant and perspective to this broad issue. Not only did this heighten my confidence, it allowed me to make a real and positive contribution to CSW as a whole and to give something while I take so much knowledge away. It is hard to describe the feeling that i felt being surrounded by so many keen and inspired young women; we are the future generation who will build upon the changes already made and see through new changes that are yet to be made. Personally I want to continue my work of getting more domestic violence information into the PSHE syllabus and work closely with the domestic violence shelter in my area. Furthermore, one of the actions I want to take is to lobby policy-makers about the issues within education particularly with syllabuses and ensure that the inspiration I have gained from this trip is channelled into positive, meaningful change.
By Laura Goddard