The level of chaos in the hallways at the UN falls somewhere between a high-school corridor during the rush between classes, and the zoo stand at the Dunedin Forsyth Barr stadium. To start with, every time I went to a civil society session, I felt like we were playing a very heated, very loud, very political, and very exhausting game of sardines.
“Cool! What does that actually mean?”
It is clear that popular music plays an integral role in the reflection, and shaping of society. It is arguably one of the farthest reaching forms of disseminating information, whether that information is about love or friendship or politics or society or simply dancing at a club. Everyone has heard a piece of music that they have connected with, understood the message on a personal level, or been inspired by. Throughout my journey to New York I will be tapping my toes to Shania, I’ll be tempted to sing along with Aretha, I’ll feel like a boss listening to Beyoncé, I’ll be inspired by Pussy Riot and Madame Gandhi and the rest of the kick-ass women who feature on my playlist. My taste of music may have changed, but I cannot deny the important role these artists have played in my life. In the words of Queen B, “Who run the world? Girls”.
Sisters should be building sisters up, not shutting sisters down. In the words of Toyin Ojora Saraki: ‘Why can’t I be my sister’s keeper?'
Menstruation is not a new, outrageous, unheard of concept - women have been doing it since...well...forever. But a stigma around menstruation and the discussion of it still exists, and has extremely negative impacts on women and girls worldwide. It is vital for the feminist cause that society loses the stigma surrounding menstruation, as it creates shame about femininity. We need to be able to talk about menstruation without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. We need to identify access to menstrual products as a basic human right for all girls and women. And we need to be proud of the bleedin’ cool things women’s bodies can do.
Achieving gender equality isn’t a one woman fight done by many. Rather, it’s one fight involving many women. When working together, celebrating each other’s success, valuing differences, and seeing each other as comrades rather than competitors, we can be phenomenal.
It is important for us to remember that fairy tales still exist, and sometimes not in the right way.
Although I am absolutely certain that the ethical argument for promoting the rights of girls and women simply on the basis of respect for human rights can stand alone, this conference is not about promoting the rights of girls and women purely for the sake of equality being a generally nice and desirable thing.