Lauren Davies

Geneva Trip Report

I’d like to begin by extending my thanks to NAWO and Widows for Peace through Democracy, as well as to Zarin Hainsworth, for giving me the overwhelming experience of being able to visit the United Nations at the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, to learn there, to network there and, vitally, to engage and be active in processes and events held on this fascinating occasion.

Whilst the experience showed me the feats women have to go to across the world for equal rights within the workplace and outside of this sphere (some of which were terribly moving), it also highlighted to me the vast amount of organisations and people working for a better and more equal world. It taught me not only to be proactive in working for equality, but to be proactive in searching for solutions to these far reaching problems.

Highlights of the event for me were learning about issues I was previously unaware of, and hearing about them through different forms of event: panels, discussions, films and even fashion shows! Over the course of the week I learnt a huge amount about the plight of widows within their communities: their ostracisation and the horrible practises they have to go through, which in the west we are largely oblivious to. I was also moved by the struggle of Native American women, who are often ‘pimped’ as sex slaves and who have been affected hugely by the fight at Standing Rock. Hearing about these experiences broadened my previous narrow amount of knowledge, and I am eager to continue expanding this knowledge as well as imparting it on others.

Whilst there, I also went to a fabulous event on ‘Women in Africa’ regarding FGC, its impacts and future implications. At this event I made contacts from the organisation SafeHands for Mothers as well as a young leader of Africa, Aisha, who a group of us will be working closely with to mentor teenagers who have gone through FGC and befriend them: giving us and them a learning experience and broadening our knowledge once again. We also hope to build a campaign locally for this in order to spread awareness of FGC which still continues in the UK. These contacts have given me advice on how to go about launching such a project and have also offered their future support.

This experience has allowed me to develop interest for different subjects, expand my knowledge, and have my voice heard at various events without being disregarded for my age. It has allowed me to build on my knowledge of campaigning and has inspired me to take action in doing so.

A huge thanks once again must go to NAWO and Widows for Peace through Democracy for allowing me to attend this life-changing event and Serene Communications for organising things for us.