I would first like to thank NAWO for giving me the opportunity to speak at their event on ‘Widowhood in all its forms’ at CSW62, and NIWEP for accrediting me, making my journey to this incredible event possible. I would also like to thank Serene Communications for enabling the whole thing. It would be difficult to cover all the amazing events I attended, all the inspirational people I met, and all the skills I have gained from this experience in this testimonial, so I would like to outline just a few of my favourites.
One of the most interesting and intriguing events I attended concerned ‘Feminism in Russia’, which considered the speakers’ experiences as Women’s Human Rights Activists. It was a unique opportunity to hear voices not censored or suppressed by a government which enforces misogynistic and discriminatory laws, including the decriminalisation of some forms of domestic violence and the prevention of same sex marriage. The panellists discussed the obstacles they faced in achieving gender equality, and the solutions they were currently involved in, just days before the 2018 Russian election. They were entirely honest about their hope for the future and similar to many other events, they were more than happy to discuss ideas and answer questions afterwards, a valuable opportunity to learn more about other areas we were particularly curious about.
Another one of my favourite events was one titled, ‘African Suffragettes’ held in the African Union Permanent Observer Mission, a fascinating topic which, prior to CSW, I had not considered much at all. What made this event especially memorable were the networking opportunities that followed. We had the opportunity to speak to Fatoumata Tambajang, the Vice President of the Gambia and MacDella Cooper, the only woman to run for President in Liberia, who took the time to talk to us about her campaign, advice for our own experiences in politics, and hopes for the future of women and girls.
Furthermore, I feel I developed many essential and beneficial skills during this experience, but perhaps the most striking change I noticed was my increased confidence. By the end of the week I had presented a speech, volunteered at a UN flagship event, and spoken with parliamentarians, activists and CEOs. I could never have imagined achieving any of this without the support provided throughout my time at CSW62. My networking skills were also greatly improved by workshops we attended in the evening where we learnt important skills such as compiling a CV and personal statement, performing well in an interview, and creating an effective LinkedIn profile.
With these improved skills and amplified inspiration, I plan to carry out items from my action plan to ensure that the motivation I have gained from this experience manifests itself in genuine, visible change.
It’s hard to explain the feeling of being a part of something so wonderful and being surrounded by so many inspirational women with common values, all working together to improve the world for women and girls everywhere.