Case Study: Megan Ratcliffe

What CSW means to me

To attend CSW was a daunting concept yet I am thrilled that I took the opportunity and will treasure both the memories and the experience I gained. In fact, it confirmed my current aspirations to have a future in Law, in particular focusing on human rights; it has nurtured my will for changing our moral climate. As a result, I was thrilled to meet such inspirational people from around the world with a dream to further the discussion on equality, which I am honoured to be a part of, thanks to accreditation from NAWO.

At CSW60, I spoke on ‘The role of girl child widows in sustainable development’ on behalf of Widows Rights International; of whom I will be eternally grateful for providing such a life changing opportunity, which I will cherish as a reminder of my own empowerment. During this time I felt honoured to stand beside a panel of such experienced women who’s strength touched everyone in the room, including myself; while emphasising the plights of girls much younger than myself, and the myths surrounding widowhood that imprison their futures.

Throughout CSW, hearing such harrowing personal stories had the greatest impact on myself, as it humanised the global discrimination women are facing, making me appreciate how lucky I am. Thus, I was filled with a sense of duty as a young girl from the UK to speak out for other girls who are bound by both their cultural and geographical reality. I was inspired! I found it shocking to learn about the intensity of the mistreatment towards females and was overwhelmed with emotions ranging from compassion to anger at the negligence in some cases by society and our governments. As a result, I found it very reassuring that so many different people, embodying cultures from all over the world had come up with a variety of solutions to solve the issues that were being collectively discussed. I was also very grateful for the opportunity to express my own solutions at the conference on widowhood during my speech and for the acceptance of the women whose knowledge was so expansive compared to my own.

During my time at CSW I was stunned not only at the extent of women’s issues which I was naively unaware of beforehand, but by the expertise I encountered, for example the parliamentarians, who seemed thoroughly interested in our opinions. As a result, I feel like I have grown in independence and confidence by developing ideas and opinions of my own, which at CSW I could stand by and others could respect. It also provided me the opportunity to open my mind-set to many different cultures and persons I would never normally associate with in my social circles, I found this very enlightening and altered my outlook to encompass these new mentalities. Furthermore, I improved my organisational skills during CSW and understood about the preciousness of time and self-management; my new found efficiency has been very helpful when planning for exams! As well as this, we all seemed to enjoy learning about how to effectively implement solutions for long term success, and will use this when looking at how to implement our action plans within a schooling environment. As a result, thanks to CSW, I have come away a highly determined, well-rounded and approachable person!

To conclude, I have taken a lot from the opportunity to participate in CSW and I hope to share my newfound knowledge with others and raise awareness of the issues emphasised by women across the globe. This will be encompassed in my action plan whereby I hope to increase the involvement of younger boys and girls into the feminist movement. Therefore, CSW meant a lot to me, including the people I met as a result of the experience and I cannot thank NAWO and Widows Rights International enough for such a precious experience in my early years!

By Megan Ratcliffe | NAWO Youth Delegate