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By Maria Murerwa, LWF Young Adults CSW 55 Delegates

It is important to be in school to attain a formal education; however, I also believe that one can attain education in different institutional settings, events and organizations. That is why I think it is important for students whether they are home schooled or not, to be exposed to real world issues that they would not be exposed to in a classroom setting or homes.  There is a range of issues discussed at the CSW that I was not sure how I felt about them but because they were told by people who have those experiences or work closely with people with those experiences, I am drawn closer to the issues and it motivates me to be part of that positive change that is longed for.

Even though the workshops were different, they always came back to the theme of the conference, Access to education in science and technology.  I got inspiration from many amazing speakers from around the world. This year, I was so moved by so many people among whom was Charllotte Bunch, Founding Director & Senior Scholar, Center for Women’s Global Leadership. Ms. Bunch was also very involved in a campaign that led to the creation of UN women which was launched during commission on the status of women 55. The other person that fascinated me was Facia Harris, a member of World Student Christian Federation, a young adult from Liberia who I first meet two years ago; Facia had less confidence at the time when I first met her, now she is not only an inspiration to me  but also a  role model for many lives in her country. She hosts a radio show in her country where she addresses women’s issues. I was able to attend her presentation on how to improve maternal health in Liberia. She talked about the Fistula Project which was established in 2007 through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia. This project working closely with local nonprofit Organizations provide Fistula prevention programs to help improve maternal.

After the amazing worship at the church center for the UN on March 2, I had the privilege to attend a parallel event on grassroots women form Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, New Guinea, Cameroon, Peru, India and other countries were speaking out to UN women about their work and their suggestions to this UN Body. In this case the women were speaking directly to Michelle Bachelet, the first former female president of Chile and now the first Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General of UN Women. These women had suggestions to make to UN women. Some of their suggestions included: their voices to be heard and work to be recognized by this new agency, to start a fund to support grassroots women to travel to important conferences, they wanted an advisory board for grassroots women within the UN Women. Some women presented in a convincing tone, which Mr. Bachelet  told the crowd that she did not need to be convinced of their suggestions because she knew how important they were. She reminded the women that she was there to listen and to take their suggestions to the other UN entities.

This is just a few of the events I attended. However, that is what conferences like these can do to young people. They challenge you to bring out the best of you that you may not have thought you had, they give you a reason to shine a light for those who are in darkness and they give you a reason to be that hand that can lift others when they fall.

Attending CSW is essential for me because it updates me to current and old issues that women are dealing with in different parts of the world. As a student who is looking for ways to be innovative and getting ready for employment, it helps me make contacts with potential employers, mentors and professional partners. Conferences like these empower young people through giving them a chance to think big. It gives them a voice and a career direction.

Other than meeting new people and making connections, I got to meet and talk with people who are passionate about women’s development and wellbeing.  I was exposed to what is happening in other parts of the world and what measures are being taken to ensure that positive change can be attained by both women and men.  Coming to CSW empowers me makes me feel like I can be part of change; change that is need by so many women, men and children around the globe.

At the end of the CSW, I feel educated and empowered and I would not trade this experience for anything else in the world.  Attending the CSW gives me a reason to believe that I can be part of change; change that I want to see and be part of in the world.

I would like to thank Emily Davila and Christine Mangale of LWF/LOWC for giving me this opportunity to chase my passion for gender issues.

• power • solidarity • impossible • identity • defeat • denied access to solidarity • I’m a movement person • toxic air • they have my back • do something • wrestle • something stronger • juggle • it affirms • grounding • reconnecting • inspiring • core • lines between • positive masculinities • even the converted can be deceptive • a way for us • we need each other • gender equality • always a weird experience to me • competition • I have to continue • tense • both at the same time • the most injustices, the most suffering • enriching • I didn’t speak out • find my voice • use my voice • I really thank you • overwhelming • I needed what we have together • gross violation • I thank Ecumenical Women for including me • this cold in New York • richer • broader • poisoned • animating • break the silence • frustration • what we need to get rid of • disseminate information • positive energy • young and old working together • it takes both • as a young person • stories of the people • two worlds • I can’t talk about how this is impacting me • privileged • positive power institutions have • language has huge power • we become far stronger • clearer path • hard work • it’s so beautiful to listen to • richness • for remembering me • for the very first time • I never understood why • to be a part • I collapsed in a heap • the one thing I know •

During advocacy briefings this week, a part of the conversation focused on the situations in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.   Two Advocacy Tool resources grow out of those conversations.  Click here to download the Libya Advocacy Tool, and click here to download the Côte d’Ivoire Advocacy Tool.

They are intended as advocacy resources for  individuals and organizations  to use as appropriate – they include suggestions for their use – but they are only suggestions – feel free to adapt the material and use it in whatever way works for you or your organization.

These are peoples’ advocacy resources in that they are provided for the use of the people – whoever wants to engage in advocacy – however they are helpful – recognizing that no two individuals or organizations may use them in the same way.

They are also peoples’ advocacy resources in that they were created out of a collaborative process. Thanks to all who helped work on these resources – and to all who engaged in the conversations around this project. Those conversations helped shape these tools.

It might be helpful to the group as a whole if any of us who use these resources were to share that information with the group. That way we can learn from each other.  Please let us all know what actions you have taken by writing a comment to this post.

Interviewed by Alvaina Daniels, Ecumenical Women Intern-Communications

EW:  Good Afternoon.  How are you today?

IV:  I’m doing fine.

EW:  Thank you for taking you the time to talk with me.  I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your experience at CSW.

IV:  Okay.

EW:  What organization are you here representing

IV:  I am here with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF).

EW:  What issues brought you here to CSW?  What issues interest you?

IV:  The theme of this CSW, which has to do with decent work, access to education for the girl-child, training and development, science and technology, which were all prior interests before coming here.

EW:  Tell me about your experience this past week.

IV:  My experiences have been very good.  My coming here to CSW was like an eye-opener for me.  I’ve now come to understand how policies are made, and the extent to which they affect mankind the world over.  This space has also afforded me the opportunity to know how documents are made.

EW:  So you’ve been over to the UN.

IV:  No.  Unfortunately, I was not able to register on time.  Only two from my group had the opportunity to gain access to the UN.  So, I was not able to attend all the functions.

 

EW:  Next year. Make that happen!  You’ll love it there.

IV:  Yes, I already hope see because one of my desires is to really go there and see what happens, how issues are debated, because now what I am into now in is strictly on the level of NGOs, of civil society organizations, which I have already been involved with back home.

EW:  So how do you feel about the creation of UN Women?

IV:  I feel good because even when I read some of the document, I was thinking it would overshadow some of the work that has already been done by other groups within the UN, like UNICEF and UNIFEM.  But this document afforded me to understand that this will enhance the work.  That there should be a separate bureau solely focused on women’s issues, which will give it more weight for full implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

EW:  So you’re a younger delegate.  What would you like to say to the older generation?

IV:  To those at CSW:  “It’s about time we move away from the traditional.  We have been pushing issues that have been carrying us backward.”   To those in the African continent:  I’m one person with an opinion.  One of the reasons we’re not making progress in Africa is because of those traditions of culture, practices that we have.  Policies are curved they are less effective in most parts of Africa because they tend to measure the application of power in line with our cultural practices.  So if they are not conforming to our culture practices, then we ten to overlook them.  So I think that we must move away from them and be sincere and work together.  The older generation needs to work with the young people.  We want them to allow the young people to bring in new ideas.

EW:  To give them space to make that progress.

IV:  Exactly because at the end of the day we are the ones that will be left to carry on these things, these developments, these progresses.

EW:  What would you say to your peers right now?

IV:  Its time that we take education, seriously.  One of the key things is that we need to make the kind of change we want to see in the world.  If we are not educated then it is going to be difficult to make any impacts because we already know the issues and we do not know how to push them and to solve them.  We need to pay attention and be very attentive to these type of conferences where we come.  Its not for fun.  Its about learning how we can be able to honestly understand what is happening and what changes we can make to pay for our own world.

 

EW:  Is there anything final you would like to say?

IV:  We need to be very serious and focus on what we want.  We must allow others to be involved in advocacy.  People always coming here, but not many changes are made.  More doors must be opened for others to bring in new perspectives and we need to take this seriously.

EW:  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

Interviewed by Alvaina Daniels, Ecumenical Women Intern-Communications

EW:  ¡Hola!

MB:  ¡Hola!

EW:  So, what organization (s) do you work with?

MB:  I work with various organizations in the U.S. and globally. In my country, we have a movement called the 21st century movement, which works for a culture of peace, durable peace, sustainable peace, and conditions that will allow people to have peace in their country.  In the US, I have participated with groups that are ecumenical and related to the National Council of Churches.  Also, I’m with movements in the U.S., such as the Year Campaign, which is a campaign of the women’s movement that supports the new unit of UN Women.  And I have been a part of other government processes at the UN such as financing for development, Global Coalition against Poverty and Hunger, rural endeavors and refugee endeavors. I am an older adult, but I do a lot of work with younger people.  And the purpose is to support young people who have possibility to create a different world.  Right now because situations are very difficult for the young people to carry out programs and create a world that they need, in terms of their needs.  Because there are no jobs, education is getting expensive; there is high cost of living.  It is really important that young people really start understanding the world that they’re inheriting and deciding how they are going to transform it for their needs and for future generations.  And I think that they should be a lot of people from my generation, the older generation to accompany them.

EW:  What issues brought you to CSW this year?

MB:  In reality, it is because all those issues are creating injustice in the world and there is never going to be peace.  Many of these issues:  the impoverishment of people, the degradation of the environment, all the crises, the energy crisis, financial economic crisis, climate change, all that is at the base of people not having quality of life.  They are very much the source of war in the world.  To me, the UN is an instrument to prevent war and to work for peace.  And so different processes are about that.

EW:  Can you tell me about your experience this past week?

MB:  Its always good when I come to the UN because I am already involved in various processes.  And I have been working with them right before I came here, but this one in particular was very important because I was able to do some accompaniment to the Ecumenical Women and especially to the work of World Student Christian Federation (WSCF).  I think that WSCF is a very important instrument for young people to be able to work on the world that they want.  But young people have to be prepared for that.

EW:  How do you feel about the creation of UN Women?

MB:  We have been pushing very hard to do it.  But we realized and that…if we don’t do the work, it can be hijacked.  It could go in a direction that we don’t need.  It has to do with how strong our movement is and how clear it is, and how much we are able to press even our own governments and other organizations to make sure that the purpose of the unit is fulfilled.  And the purpose of the unit is to correct the imbalances that have been created in terms of women’s participation and their rights in the world. And it seems that we are more, the majority of the world.  If we don’t work on this, the world is going to be facing all these inequities and all the other inequities have grown mostly from that inequity [imbalances in terms of women’s rights].

EW:  What is something you would like to say to the younger generation?

MB:  They better seek what is going on in and be clear about the world they are inheriting and the state of the planet that they have to live in.  If they don’t wake up and continue to be lost in all kinds of gadgets; they will know who took them for a ride, but they will have a very bad ride. And I think if they don’t get together, they won’t have the moral authority nor the ways to demand of all the other generations to make the qualitative difference and that has to happen now.  They have to learn to read the signs of the times and work to create the conditions for something different.  If young people don’t participate in working the crisis, things are going to get work and they are not going to get better.  With all the crises …the world will never be the same. It will never, never, never be the same.  They have to know that and they have to know what world they want.  Because otherwise they will just have to submit to the world that is being created for them. That will create more inequalities in the world.

EW:  Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

 

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