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.