Emily Spellman

Prior to CSW62 I was aware of the severe difference which women face day to day due to gender inequality, however, this knowledge has been rapidly expanded. In regards to my actions working against gender issues: I was attending FEMSOC weekly which focuses on different gender issues weekly and holds a discussion where everyone can contribute their opinions. Furthermore, on a more personal level I was exploring how the number of women could be increased in business leadership within my EPQ because of the interest I have within business.

Whilst I was at CSW I learnt more about the issues which women face and the running of the United Nations than I could even begin to explain. I would firstly like to outline that from the experience of participating in an event and involving myself in Q&A sessions and the other events I attended I feel more confident and capable as a young woman; as a result I feel that I am more able to speak publically with self-assurance. I learnt about the circumstances which women face globally, from the lack of attention which is focused onto widows along with the difference in gender equality between rural women and urban women. Nonetheless, what stood out most prominently for me were the events centred towards gender equality within politics and business. Whilst attending my first event at CSW I learnt that women only hold 32 out of 193 seats in government in Malawi, which is shockingly below 20%, and that there is a similar situation in Chile where 36% of women are parliamentarians, which has risen from 23%. There was also concentration towards closing the gender pay gap, but what was most obvious for me whilst I was at the United Nations was that there is a lot of talk and idea but the actual implementation and actions which are performed is not at the level which it needs to be in order to combat a change. Above all, one of the events which I enjoyed most was ‘Me Too, now what? Women in the media- from outcry to action’ where one of the guest speakers was Sienna Miller. In this event it was reinforced that the outrage which is driving a resolution to end discrimination amongst all women in the media and across all industries is due to the many women behind it who are declaring that time is up. The inspirational panel offered a range of conclusive views on the ways in which we need to move forward in order to make a difference, but most importantly this change needs to be sustainable and start from the younger generations to impact a real transformation. Above all, I learnt the sheer magnitude of people which are lobbying governments, campaigning and raising awareness backed by their own motivational stories to help make a difference in gender parity.

Since CSW I believe that my eyes have been opened to the wider world, making some of my day to day problems seem insignificant. The confidence and knowledge I have gained along with the outstanding opportunities which have been offered to me as a result of networking and speaking on a highly esteemed panel are life changing. As a result of putting a lot of effort into attending CSW I have been lucky enough to receive valuable chances from it, such as attending the Parliament of World Religions in Canada this year. As a young women’s delegation we are organising our own mini conference back in Stroud to help make a change at our own local level, hosting side events where each of us can share the knowledge which we gained on issues such as child marriage. In addition, we plan to sell jewellery made by the coordinator of Naserian (which is a NGO based in Tanzania empowering widows and increasing their knowledge of their own rights) and consequently, raising money to fund young girls to go to school in their community.

To conclude I would like to explain how thankful I am to Serene Communications for giving me such an incredible opportunity to attend CSW62 and understand all the outstanding work which is done, along with Widows Rights International for further allowing me to attend and to Zonta International for inviting me onto their panel which gave me an amazing chance to gain confidence within myself – an invaluable life skill. I am inspired to make a change and from my experiences at CSW these changes will be catalysed: together I believe girls can drive the change which is needed.

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