Attending the CSW59 conference was an enriching experience that has changed my life. Some of the events that I attended were:
- A New Framework for Gender Equality in Afghanistan. Afghan ministers and members of parliament (all females) gave a panel discussion on the current situation of their nation.
- Gender Equality in Education: A Much Needed Approach. Representatives from Thailand reported on improvements and also discussed further actions to be taken. I met the Prime Minister of Thailand and also a representative of the World Bank.
- Revision of the Beijing+20 Platform of Action – Cuba. In this panel discussion Cuba gave a report on the improvements that have taken place in their country. It happens to be that Cuba is one of the top countries were women are given the chance to be involved in important roles. Among those whom I met from the panel, I became really good friends with famous poet Lazaro Castillo.
- Looking Ahead – The Place of Sport for Women’s Empowerment Post-2015. The International Olympian Committee held a discussion on the importance of having women be part of sports. Famous Olympic medalist, Michelle Kwan, was part of the panel. I was able to meet Alan Abrahamson, founder of 3 Wire Sports.
I also attended general proceedings and discussions in which countries were accountable for last conference’s goals. I was also able to interview Ana Madrid, Executive President of the National Institute of Women of Honduras. We learned that in Cuba, couples treat each other equally, probably more than any other nation. In Honduras, to be married at an early age and to withhold women from benefits at divorce is socially unacceptable. Women are given parts of the share, if not half of the share, of what she and her husband hold together. This law reduces divorce and promotes equality.
In another meeting, we found out that one of the female members of parliament in Afghanistan was killed. This incident moved everyone in the room. I learned that even if we gather enough credible statistics, the media would show something different to the target audience. We must have to pass the word around and use social media to help these women.
My overall experience in the Beijing+20 conference was very rewarding. One of my main goals is to work with the UN in the future to promote and advance development. Being at this conference made my dreams of stepping inside the UN come true. My future was highly affected by the conference for two main reasons: 1) I am now able to better advocate for the female population, and 2) working in an environment with key players is what I want to do as part of my career path.
My perspective on gender equality grew from the experience I had in these events. It mainly grew because I was able to meet with several influential people outside of the normal setting where we normally see them. I was able to eat with some of them and talk about gender issues. I was also able to attend meetings were decisions were being made.
Walking around the UN and seeing several cultures taught me that I am not the only one advocating for change. No matter what language you speak, you are backed up by nations who want to promote gender equality. And that brings hope to any young person who is trying to change the world. Regardless of the fact that New York seems to be the type of place I’d like to live in, the UN itself was a great experience. I would definitely want to do this again if an opportunity arises because these causes most align with my long-term goals.