NAWO Youth at #CSW66: What We Learned
NAWO YWA was proud to host Youth Led Meaningful Conversations during CSW66 chaired by Tyra Tupu-Fanolua and Kathrine Williams.
These side events were a platform for conversations started, led by and about issues that affect young people, putting their voices at the forefront.
Meaningful Conversations became a safe space to voice opinions, share experiences and call for actions in order to Unite, Amplify and Act for a better tomorrow.
The events addressed many important and complex issues spanning from feminist characteristics and toxic masculinity, violence against women and allyship, climate education, young women in STEM and more, all looked at through young person’s eyes.
What did we learn?
I have been impressed by participants’ knowledge and experience on such a broad variety of topics. It was truly astounding to listen to different points of view and helpful discussions on very complex and sometimes controversial issues. Hearing all those young people was an amazing experience, seeing their passion and commitment gave me hope for the future, but also made me sad that they need to take a stand and work hard to solve the crisis not of their own making. The UN Secretary General during his Town Hall has stressed how important it is to give young people a voice as the older generation just can’t solve the current crisis on their own.
There were so many takeaways and food for thoughts during those meetings, but there were a few which really resonated with me.
• Consent is only a consent when other options, beyond just survival, are available
• You need to understand what is behind each choice as we are socialized in certain ways, which can highly influence our behaviour
• You should lend your voice to those who need it but never speak over the voice that should be listened to
As creating a safe space for discussion is a start, I do hope we can continue those conversations beyond CSW and support one another not only with our experiences and knowledge but also with taking actions for a better future for all. We all should remember that we need all voices at the decision making table in order to make a truly lasting change.
The main thing I will take away from coordinating and hosting the Youth Led Meaningful Conversations throughout CSW66 (besides learning about how much work is needed to organise and participate in such events) is the value of being present. During one of the sessions, the group were discussing the fact that there was a lack of certain friends, networks and allies in attendance – despite many of our friends, networks and allies saying they would attend. Zarin Hainsworth said that everybody that needed to be there was there and that was the most important thing. She went on to say that if we should not be there, we simply would not be there. This really hit me as I struggle with imposter syndrome. However, being part of the meaningful conversations as well as having an active role in its creation highlighted to me that during that time, I was exactly where I needed to be and I was doing everything that I needed and could do to work towards things that I am passionate about.
Moreover, Tyra and I always found a way to include one question into the conversation… What can we actually do, right now, to work on the topic at hand? Having meaningful conversations is an amazing thing. We can learn from each other, discover more about ourselves and generally work towards a better humanity. Although, at the end of the day, meaningful conversations can only drive you so far. As coordinators and hosts, it was important to us that those who participated in the conversation felt that they are and could be drivers for change and improvement in whatever capacity they felt necessary. And, following on from my previous point, any improvement is good enough. This also highlighted to me who my real allies are. From speaking with new people, with new perspectives, I have been reminded that in certain situations, actions speak louder than words.
Overall, the experience has reminded me to live in the moment, take each stage of life as it comes and work hard to improve the world around me as much as I can. Because I can.
I attended the Youth Led Meaningful Conversation about the Benefits of Feminine Characteristics and Toxic Masculinity. I was lucky enough to give a presentation at the event as well as take part in a debate. It was such a refreshing experience to be part of a youth-led conversation and talk about things which mattered to young women. I really enjoyed being able to explore different ideas about gender – we went really deep into what it truly meant to be a woman or a man. It was also really important to be able to discuss toxic masculinity and the impact it had on women in such an amazing safe space.
Only through working collaboratively and in solidarity can we turn the promises of CSW into a real change and that is why building the Young Women’s Alliance is so vital.
Only then will we be able to get our voices heard, contribute to issues young people care about and work with like minded people passionate about gender equality becoming a reality./strong>
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