Due to the pandemic the conference was being transmitted virtually which gave me the opportunity to attend as it is held in New York, USA.
I had to be approved and give a photograph of myself. It sounds silly but it fed my excitement for the week and made me feel so important.
I decided to attend some training on what to expect and how to obtain the most experience from the week. It was worthwhile, and when put into breakout rooms I was fortunate enough to be partnered with two senior Soroptimists and a young woman who had mobility restrictions from an organisation that empowers women with disabilities. I had not thought about how positive the world becoming more virtual would be to someone with disabilities until she explained that everything was now more accessible to her.
As well as the CSW conference official meetings, we could have access to the side events and NGO (non-governmental Organisation) events. So after registering I went to see what events there would be and what I could view. So many interesting discussions – I decided it would be easier if I used the
download and then I could see when I was available to attend some discussions over the two weeks.
There were 700 events downloaded into my electronic diary!! My virtual assistant Alexa nearly had a breakdown when giving my agenda for the day.
Once I had decided what I was attending, I signed up. The side events were inspiring – I watched so many discussions on a variety of subjects including child marriage, FGM, violence against women, empowering women, women in leadership and climate issues.
It was great to see the work that was being done to combat the issues; educating the communities, supporting the victims and what I could do myself. I also watched how villages were being built by using waste plastic bottles that were filled with soil to create bricks for building houses.
One event that really opened my eyes was the online violence; the abuse women were getting online was inexcusable, especially towards female journalists. Former President Trump seemed to have provided an excuse for abusers who would use the ‘fake news’ reason for their behaviour.
These female journalists, who were mainly reporting on articles around women, were harassed and abused online but sometimes the violence spills offline. In some countries like the Philippines, the threat is heightened; one female activist who was abused online was shot whilst on her way home.
Two links I would recommend to read;
- Maria Ressa – Fighting an Onslaught of Online Violence_0.pdf (icfj.org)
- UNESCO’s Global Survey on Online Violence against Women Journalists
The other bonus to the virtual event is that the sessions were recorded and are still available to view online via the UN Women website.
In the summing up by Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the closing of CSW65, the success of the virtual event was recognised, acknowledging how many people they had reached and how the voices could be heard
from across the world, from cities, towns and villages. If you would like to read this for yourself the link is;
I’m looking forward to the next one and hope it’s virtual again!