If there’s one thing I learnt over the course of our training weekend, it was the power of people. The power of people to be catalysts for change on the world’s largest stages and the power of people’s small actions lifting others.
Some reflection on the training weekend, one week out from the trip to the OECD Forum in Paris. Inside jokes, insightful conversations, and amazing guest speakers set the tone for what is sure to be an amazing journey..
As a History PhD student researching 1970s Vogue through a feminist lens, the review theme of women and media at CSW62 caught my attention immediately. I attended 10 sessions focusing exclusively on media over the 10 days of CSW, with topics ranging from community radio in Africa to Hollywood representation imbalances to Danish short films on elements of the UN Sustainable Development Goals featuring Helen Mirren as narrator, and many other sessions included some form of discussion of the impact that media representation or access has on women in rural communities/women human rights defenders/women in politics etc.
Although I’ve been home from the USA for almost a month now, the issues raised at CSW62 are still percolating (very distracting for me now that I’m meant to be fully focused on my PhD research again!) In my last blog, way back in NYC, I shared some of my most interesting notes from each day of week 1, so for this third (very delayed) blog, I decided to revisit 3 sessions from week 2 that are still buzzing around in my head a month after the fact.
The big black dog has been following me around since my recent move to Kirikiriroa, Hamilton. And this trip... boy has my anxiety grown in the lead up to this trip. I think it is important to talk to my experience of being Maori... of not knowing my language... the insecurities..the anxiety that I feel..share it, and grow from it.
The past week has been totally overwhelming and totally awesome. I’ve been summarising my notes from each day for a select audience of my friends and family, so here are some of the highlights from my summaries of each day; some square brackets with my extra meta-thoughts on re-reading this stuff; and, to start off with, some key thoughts I have in general. Enjoy the madness and excuse the messiness, this is what my brain looks like now!
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.
The past few weeks in the lead up to our delegation’s departure has been nothing short of exciting and unreal: constituting a flurry of errand-running, making the acquaintance of some brilliant and clued-on women who really do shine the way you imagine superstars do
Well. I've got my passport. Getting me to where I need to go on flights. But I've also got my passport to life. I know who I am. I know why I'm here. Ready to fly...and eat some maccas while I'm at it x
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”.
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.
Climate change in the Pacific has been well documented in Western media, but what frustrates me is that the sinking of Pacific islands below rising tides is too often portrayed as predetermined, rather than something can be prevented. The world has never seen changes in climate patterns such as what we are beginning to experience, and the future outcomes for nations cannot be foretold.
Freedom. A theme which would pop up constantly throughout the week while we were meeting with think tanks and visited panel discussions in preparation for the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings. How is the freedom of sovereign nations maintained when they deal with the World Bank and the IMF?
What is 'passion'? I define it as “a strong fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything which compels a person to act". There are pros and cons to following our passions. True passion can be far reaching and impact lives beyond our own. Whether that outcome is good, well that's a matter of perspective.
Like Libby, I also saw the application for the AYLI World Bank and IMF meetings a day before the deadline. I had already set off on my travels en route to DC for my university exchange. But eager to make the most of my time in the United States and form as many connections as possible, I started on my application in a busy, noisy dorm room in Montréal.