Josie Olsen: Tenuously linking Harry Potter with my pre-CSW62 experience

I have always identified with Hermione Granger, but never have I felt so desperately in need of a Time-Turner than now. With up to 15 CSW events on at the same time each day, choosing which to attend is a struggle. Like Hermione, I have my own pet focuses when it comes to human (or elf) rights issues: gendered issues around media representation and climate change are my particular interests, so naturally the events on these clash as much as humanly possible. Add on the difficulties of timing, UN security processes, and the different locations for each event, and the process is nigh on impossible. However, the hassle with highlighters, notes, and pieces of paper flying everywhere has resulted in a relatively well-spread and well-balanced programme of events - now to see if the practise is as difficult as the theory!

Unfortunately, I’m only applying Hermione’s excellent work ethic to half my life at the moment - the exciting, UN/New York half. My PhD research has largely been put on hold in favour of reading over CEDAW, the CSW Zero Draft, government policies, and CSW guides. I’ve also attended the Human Rights Commission meeting about New Zealand’s relationship to CEDAW, and a Public Policy Institute seminar on gender-based policy analysis - all of which is completely new to me but endlessly fascinating.

A few of the main points that have stuck with me from my study:

  • When the UK government put their 2010 austerity budget into place, 81% of their net savings came from women - maternity pay being cut, benefits that were largely accessed by women cut instead of the ones accessed mainly by men, tax readjustments that benefitted mostly men. This figure has recently been reassessed by the UK Women’s Budget Group as 86%, since the UK government still doesn’t bother to conduct gender impact analysis on its policies (despite the fact that basic gender analysis became a legal requirement for all public bodies there under the 2010 Equality Act).
  • The NZ HRC has recently started a piece of research into the “working poor” - people who have full-time jobs but are still in poverty - and their current (conservative) estimate is that 30% of New Zealanders fall into this category. Of this 30%, women, Māori and Pasifika, and people working in specific industries (for example care industries) are extremely over-represented.
  • New Zealand has: no official definition of poverty; no comprehensive survey on human rights; no reliable data on disabilities or SOGISC themes (sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual characteristics); no explicit gender-based policy analysis.

The most exciting thing for me (around all of these depressing facts and figures) is seeing the career opportunities within NGOs and government on these issues. To wrap up my tenuous Harry Potter connection and paraphrase Hermione: being an Auror(academic) isn’t the only worthwhile career. Taking Elfish Welfare (women’s rights) further is just as viable!

Ka kite Aotearoa, next stop NYC!

'Time-Turner' image by Henry Burrows licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Posted on March 2, 2018 and filed under CSW62 2018.