By Nadia Sanchez, She Is Foundation. Colombia, Member of CIVICUS Youth Working Group
My experience at CSW62 as a panelist in the event "Shrinking space for the feminist movement"
The 62nd Commission on the Status of Women - CSW62 was an experience that facilitated knowledge generation and transfer amongst women from more than 120 countries who met and shared their experiences, but also decided on the steps to take forward together. In the session on "Shrinking space for the feminist movement" organized by CIVICUS in collaboration with other civil society organizations, I first thought it would only be about discussing the theme of rural Women and economic empowerment, but the biggest outcome was connecting as activists and leaders to raise our voices, finding out that everything we shared had a strong connection, sharing around the work of women, rural women, peace and our own feeling as activists.
Main outcomes of attending CSW62
Sharing our experiences with the UN allowed us to empower ourselves and generate valuable connections. But above all, it enables us to act together.
CSW62 was also an opportunity to revive hope that we are doing the job well and that the time is now to continue dignifying our rights.
I particularly connected and developed synergies with the delegation of my country, Colombia, who invited me to be in their sessions and to actively participate in a topic as important as peace.
SHE IS, the organisation I founded, works with victims of the armed conflict, communities in situations of vulnerability and extreme poverty. It has not been an easy process, we have moved from indifference to our work to building a sustainable network that transforms lives.
Now imagine what it has been like to share our work in this iconic venue, to raise our voice and being given the opportunity to exchange knowledge for a common good, which perhaps could be called a 'solidarity economy of knowledge'.
This is how I would summarize my experience as a CIVICUS Youth speaker invited to New York for CSW62: “think of the other, listen to them and then make your voice heard in solidarity, in an ecosystem that allows the development of knowledge economies and united voices. To me - and that’s what CIVICUS helped me to confirm - there is no growth system without empathy towards others.
Additionally, meeting another CIVICUS partner: the director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, was life changing. We connected outside of the conventional space through unity, dance, joy and smiles which finally led her to invite me to present our SHE IS BRAVE campaign.
Can I say that I met my expectations and those of my organization by attending the CSW62?
A few years ago I attended the CSW as a lambda participant just to listen, without being able to share our work or raise our voice. This year, I was able to carry the voice of many rural women, victims of the armed conflicts in many country and to promote our role as local leaders in the UN discussions
This is only possible through platforms like CIVICUS that care and support the work of civil society and the youth particularly, in a humane and empathic way.
The way forward for future activists and spokespersons from the feminist movement
Fear of speaking may seize us, but when you feel part of a family and recognised, you manage to fulfill your mission and carrying your message in a dynamic and participatory way. CSW62 set a precedent for those women who are out of cities and have a lot to tell and share.
I was overwhelmed by the warmth of people who listened to my speech and my story, who nodded and thus acknowledged that what I was sharing, not only fulfilled the purpose of the conference, but also gave value to our participation.
Also, I was able to identify in each woman, in each participant with whom I spoke, in each scenario shared, a brave, determined, human woman who wants to transform her world and that of others by proposing innovative solutions to the problems we face.
It is a challenge to be leaders, activists, feminists, young people and it is a much greater challenge to handle what is involved in running an organization. It is a challenge that we must face with resilience and persistence in our society.
SHE IS is transforming the lives of young people, of women, but thinking of a long-term sustainable transformation, reviving those hopes that we thought were lost, in an innovative way, generating economic empowerment in the communities we serve and giving the best of ourselves. Both you and I who are reading this post will be able to decipher how wonderful it is to share scenarios, exchange knowledge and experiences, raise our voice together and share what we are doing with and for women.
We must continue to generate these spaces, make civil society actors visible and empower our voice. I applaud CIVICUS for making it possible and for carrying a correct and accurate message loaded with knowledge transfer and passion for what is done.
We must continue to show the world that if you work as a team and generate alliances, you can achieve much more.
Follow our foundation on social media and unite with purpose, work with passion and discover who she is. She is the one who walks, thinks, awakens dreams, inspires illusions and improves lives.
Thank you CIVICUS and thank you, women, all around the world!
Photo credit: Hozaifa Abdalla