Kerry Lindeque

First of all I would like to thank Serene Communications for giving me the opportunity to go to CSW62, with a special thanks to Zarin Hainsworth for all her hard work. The past week has been a life changing experience which has enlightened me about women’s issues around the world and empowered me to do more to help them.

One of the most important things I learned during CSW was the power of giving a voice to the voiceless. Hearing women from rural backgrounds use this platform to push for equality was truly inspiring. A personal favourite was a youth activist from Malawi who spoke about the importance of making sure that young girls are involved in politics. And for those women who were unable to attend CSW, their stories were shared by those who could, like the founder of the Rural Women’s Movement from South Africa who spoke passionately about a woman who was abducted and forced into marriage when she was just a young girl. However, despite this, I do not believe that enough was being done at CSW62 to give voiceless women a real chance to speak. Although this was often due to VISA issues caused by the US’s current administration, not enough rural women were allowed to take part in decision making for the CSW outcome document or sit on high-level panels. I hope that at next year’s CSW more marginalised women will be given a seat at the table.

Another important thing that CSW taught me was how vital the economic and political empowerment of women is. This was instilled in me in by Fatoumata Tambajang, the vice-president of the Gambia, when she said ‘when you go into political power remember there are women behind you; bring them on board’. By giving women elevated political platforms, gender equality becomes a priority in a government’s agenda, like Norway whose female Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke at several events I attended. It was Loise Maina, of the charity Practical Action, who enlightened me about the importance of women’s economic empowerment. She spoke about providing women in Bolivia with solar panels in order to further their cocoa farming. This lead to not only an increase in income but an increase in respect among the men of the villages and towns are starting to see that women had the potential to contribute to the community and were more than house wives. The other NAWO YWA delegates and I will be showing our enthusiasm for helping women’s economic empowerment by selling jewellery made by widows from the Maasai tribe in Tanzania in our local market and school. I am so excited to share their stories with the customers and help these women become economically empowered.

My time at CSW has been amazing and I have learned so much. I am so excited to use all the knowledge and contacts I have gained to further the struggle for gender equality, especially in my own community.

Thank you!