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    Emily's Reflections on CSW Youth Forum (1)

    Reflections on the Youth Forum of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

    By Emily Lavallee (cousin of Rozanne VanRie, AWC Antwerp)

    Empower. Engage. Entertain.

    The MCs of the conference stressed that their main goal in the conference was to empower, engage, and entertain their audience. The entire conference succeeded in doing so. As an online/remote attendee, I did not know what to expect. I was surprised and pleased at how easily I was able to participate in several aspects of the conference without even leaving my house.


    Each speaker and panel was empowering in their own ways, and made me reflect on what it would mean to be empowered in my own everyday life. I have already been incredibly empowered throughout my life; my parents always considered my education my top priority, and insisted I set lofty goals for myself; my grade schools had ample opportunities for me to engage in and fully understand the learning process; I play sports, work, and attend university. In every way, I have been lucky. The resources and empowerment I have received throughout my life is not the norm. I have been aware of my privileged upbringing, but have not had the first hand comparisons in which the conference provided. Hearing stories from people of all genders regarding their personal or national struggles with gender equality put my own life in a new perspective. I am more aware of my own power in this patriarchal society, and am inspired to empower marginalized genders in my own community, and globally. I have begun to reflect on specific aspects of my life that have empowered me, and contemplate how I can empower others in the same way, or in the ways they wish to be empowered.


    This was my first time attending a conference like this, and thus my first time attending remotely as well. The conference kept me engaged, enabling my participation through twitter, and online polls and games. Throughout the conference, especially during breakout sessions, which were not available for remote participation, I wished so badly that I could have been at the conference. However, as I sat in my house, where I live with six other powerful women all from diverse backgrounds, I realized how easily I could engage in discussion with those around me. Hearing from the perspectives of people across the world regarding gender equality spurred on the conversation in my own home. Even in my community, issues and solutions regarding gender equality spanned a wide range. I only benefited from these conversations; everyone should have a voice on this issue, it is everyone’s issue. We can become engaged everywhere we go, and always empower those around us.


    I had only registered for the Youth Forum portion of CSW61, but realized quickly that remote participation was possible for anyone, regardless of registration. I have subsequently been addicted to watching CSW speakers as if it is a new Netflix series. To say the least, I have been, and continue to be, entertained.


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