I first heard about this trip around September of 2017. To apply, I needed to write a letter to Miss Patel explaining why I wanted to go to CSW and why I think I would be a good person to go. After this, I was required to write a two-minute speech on an important feminist issue. I did my speech on how feminism is often inprepreted as man hating and if we are to fight for gender equality, all genders need to know about feminism and understand that it’s not promoting female supremacy. Once I was selected to go to New York in March of 2018, I met with the whole group and Zarin Hainsworth, the Chair of NAWO, to complete a training session where we discussed the history of CSW and the impact it has had in the past. We also learnt how to network and a loose itinery of the week.
About three weeks before I left for New York, I got the topic of my speech, Brexit. I decided to title my speech ‘How will Brexit effect young women in the UK?’ and focused on issues such as equal pay, maternity leave and part time work. I got lots of feedback from Tori who went to CSW with Stroud High in 2016 and was always available to help, and also a lot of useful feedback form Zarin. On the Tuesday before we left for New York, I performed my speech in front of a small crowd in order to gain feedback and make last minute changes.
On Friday the 9th March 2018, myself and the other 21 girls coming on the trip with me gathered outside Stroud high at 3.15 am and travelled to Heathrow for at 8.10 plane to JFK.
During CSW, I learnt how I had previously been exposed to only a tiny amount of feminist issues, most of which seemed superficial compared to the range and magnitude of problems other countries in the global south are dealing with. FGM, child marriage and suffrage in these countries is still a massive issue for the women living there. The thing that amazed me the most whilst I was at CSW was the resilience of women. We heard stories of women seeing a problem, creating a solution and trying with all their heart to fix it.
The events themselves were truly inspiring, ranging in topic from how powerful women are portrayed in the media to sex trafficking and prostitution, each portraying women in a way that promoted self-reliance, power and a future.
My own speech was on Tuesday 13th March and was chaired by Jess Phillips, a Labour MP, and featured Zala Zbogar form CAP international, Mina Clarke from Stroud High School and Kate Clifford from NIWEP.
We boarded the plane home on Saturday 17th March and got back to Stroud on Sunday. Now we’re home, the group and I will start looking at how we can share the knowledge we gained with others. Myself and two others who joined Stroud High in year 12 will go back to our old secondary school and hopefully give an assembly about CSW. As a larger group, we are all planning on creating our own mini CSW in July of this year and inviting participants from schools around the county.
CSW was by far the most eye-opening experience I have ever had. I would like to thank Serene Communications for enabling this incredible opportunity. I am so honoured that I was able to attend and I hope that what I’ve learnt over the past week will be passed on to other girls and together we can help change the world.