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What was Carol’s experience of attending CSW65 virtually?

UN Commission on Status of Women – CSW65 – an overview

Well, what a week it has been, full on does not cover it. I have not been to CSW before, but it was on my list to do. Quite honestly, I think experiencing it virtually has been good. I am sure it has not been the same as actually being there, missing the social contact and sharing the fun and friendship, but this has been a brilliant way to attend so many powerful sessions, there is UN TV, Parallel sessions, and Side events.

Generally, the speakers were incredibly good, they included Govt Ministers, UN Ambassador, CEOs from a range of companies, educators, scientists plus women with lived experiences, everyone wanted to share their passion.

I took away three key messages from António Guterres in his opening address.

  • “C-19 is a pandemic with the face of a woman”
  • “Leave behind an entrenched position”
  • “Be an International Gender Champion”

Here are a few points from some of the sessions which I have attended. If you are interested to read more please read the blogs on the sigbi website and sign-up next year if there is another virtual event.



Empowering Women in STEM is essential for achieving the UNSDGs

Marlene Kanga – President World Federation for Women Engineering Organisations (WFWEO)

During her Presidency, Ms Kanga worked with UNESCO to set up World Engineering day which was launched on 4 March 2017. She believes that women engineers can create the world we want.

In the western world engineering is seen as a male dominated career, in Kuwait 50% of the engineers are women. Engineering is a career with purpose, it is advancing the SDGs.

A recurring message from speakers in this session was that diversity is essential. Diversity avoids ‘group think’, we need to ensure that there are a range of perspectives to solve the wicked problems.


Reimagining the Leadership Table With Women’s Full And Effective Participation & Decision-Making

We were encouraged to think about ourselves as leaders, we should know our own strengths and exploit them.  What is your brand or that of your organisation, what is your niche? Know what your difference is and do it well.

Femininity has been seen as a weakness, but no woman should feel the need to become like a man to succeed.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

I ended the session with the feeling that we are on our way to a world where women will be at the leadership table.


Utilizing Fashion to Advocate for Women participation and Decision Making

Fashion is not just frilly and frivolous. Fashion shapes lives. Through fashion students learn about STEM, design, heritage and cultural awareness, business education, entrepreneurship, e-commerce, software, housing, behaviour, and language.

How can we support women designers and entrepreneurs in developing countries? Could NGOs showcase handmade items from small businesses, do you work in an area which could help with this?


We Need Women Leaders in Politics: Better Society, Strong Democracy

Around the world 25% of Parliamentarians are women, 21% are speakers, 6% are Heads of State and 22% are in Ministerial positions.  Violence is the main barrier to women entering politics. Of the women in politics 82% have experienced psychological violence, 47% have experienced death threats and 26% have experienced physical violence and the numbers of online attacks has increased during 2020, young women are deterred because the online harassment is visible. The speaker called for zero tolerance and better reporting mechanisms.

Women should not be ‘ghettoised’ into dealing with issues typically associated with women i.e., childcare, health etc they need to be seen dealing with all issues.

The three sessions organised by Soroptimists were excellent.

  • Fix the system: Get her elected – SI in partnership with Women for Water Partnership
  • The Road to Equality: Preparing women and girls to lead hosted by SI
  • Combatting trafficking/slavery throughout the life’s course using education awareness and action – organised by SIGBI, Federation Programme Action Team. Yvonne Freeman and I were involved, working with our clubs in the Caribbean. A recording of the session will be made available on the SIGBI website.