Reflections on CSW59/Beijing +20: Rebecca

I arrived in New York on Sunday March 8th and left on Thursday March 12th. Once in New York I had a small amount of time to relax and get ready before I headed to UN Headquarters for registration. On the way over I attempted to recognize each of the buildings that meetings were inside of, and I also wondered around headquarters trying to find where various rooms were located. Slightly later on I participated in the March from the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to Times Square and it was an exhilarating experience! Natalie and I were marching next to a group that had a drum and created chants for all of us to shout while marching. It definitely worked to increase our excitement and call more attention by bystanders.

On Monday I was only able to successfully attend one event and it was entitled Violence in the Digital Age. It was a fascinating discussion and presentation highlighting the idea that violence against women not longer needs to physical to be severely harmful. According to the discussion Canada is slowly implementing changes to their sexual education classes to discuss healthy relationship habits, which also includes healthy ways to treat others online. Before this side event I had the pleasure of meeting and handing brochures to delegates from Canada as well as some very nice NGO officials from the Diaspora African Women’s Network. I also made a friend out of a security guard who very nicely allowed me to place a stack of our brochures in an area that otherwise would not have been allowed.

Early Tuesday afternoon I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing the Delegate for Cyprus. Through this interview I was able to learn a lot about the history of Cyprus and of many of their laws and customs. The delegate was very helpful and willing to answer all of our questions. Hopefully we will be contacting her again soon to discuss other questions we may have about Cyprus.

After this interview I attended a side event entitled Empowering the Next Generation: Paving the Way for Young Women in Decision-making at All Levels. This event discussed the levels of young women and men in Parliament all over the world. There were also points that were mentioned to encourage youth to be leaders.

On Wednesday I attended multiple side events, the first entitled Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality. This event had presenters that shared anecdotes about how they engaged men in the fight for gender equality and many said that the most important gains were made within the home. Teaching husbands and sons to support their mothers and sisters can be more beneficial than many think. One of the quotes I liked the most was that “We need more men with guts … to break our complacent silence and stand with women”. The next event I attended was Achieving Beijing: Role of Social Norms for Gender Equality. This was by far my favorite. There was a presentation involving tracking social norms with data, and also the need to better and more extensive data. As a sociologist it was fascinating! After the presentation and discussion I made sure to give as many brochures as possible to those in charge of the event.

Thursday was the morning that I had the opportunity to attend the general discussion and there was ample data that was presented. For example: “every year 67 million girls are getting married before the age of 18”, and “more than 66% of internally displaced persons in Ukraine are women”. Finally, my favorite quote from the Deputy Foreign Minister of Estonia was “the policies will not change or stop harmful practices unless we change harmful stereotypes”.

All in all, the conference was an amazing opportunity and experience, and I didn’t include all of the wonderful people I met and was able to train on the database. People seemed very interested in our data and what we had to offer. I think that WomanStats will be utilized much more because of this wonderful opportunity.

by RDM

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