Laura Manley

I’d like to firstly take this opportunity to express my gratitude to NIWEP for accrediting me, and to thank Serene Communications for making my trip to CSW62 a reality. I’d also like to thank our fantastic ‘cheerleader’ Tori, who definitely made the whole thing easier! I’m so grateful for all the support they’ve given me throughout.

I could never do justice to all the experiences and what I have learnt from CSW in the space I have here, so instead I’ll focus on just a few key areas that I found the most insightful:

Meeting Alais and Maria from Tanzania, who are part of the charity Naserian, and hearing all about the work they do to empower widows was a real privilege, as well as having the opportunity to buy jewellery made by the widows they work with there, and support them. The situation of widows throughout the world was something that I was not fully aware of, if really at all, before beginning this journey.
I had never really considered the idea of child widows before, and had very little idea about the harmful practices they’re submitted to.
I also found different events on the topics of prostitution hugely enlightening, and have almost entirely reversed my previous position thanks to the insight and events put forward by CAP, Ireland and the talk arranged for us by Zarin. I found it very interesting to hear how different policies in countries throughout the world actually worked in practice, and hearing in particular about the true nature of the way it impacted communities, for example Native American women, and individual stories from survivors of trafficking, were particularly compelling, if not harrowing, as I had never had the chance to learn from so many different perspectives.

Additionally, I really enjoyed having the chance to attend both the morning and evening briefings – it was fantastic to have the opportunity to hear the perspectives of NGOs from all across the globe. As well as this, learning more about the way that civil society and governments work together to achieve the outcomes they desire helped me better understand the way changes are made, and learning about the way the UN and CSW works in our evening briefings really added to my experience of CSW. This also helped me understand better what was happening, and going to be happening at CSW, but also has helped me understand more about the world around me in general.

I’m so honoured to have been able to take part in CSW62 and I’m immensely grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so. I have had the opportunity to learn things I don’t think I could have learnt anywhere else in the world and have been able to have some amazing conversations with some truly incredible and fascinating people. The strength and persistence of those involved, all the stories I have heard and things I have learned have given me so much inspiration, and strengthened my resolve further to speak out and fight for gender equality.
Finally, I once more would like to thank Zarin, for giving me this amazing opportunity, at the risk of sounding overly cliché, I do feel as though my life, and myself have been totally changed.

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