CSW68 Blog Post

This March, I was honored to attend CSW68 as an official UNA-USA Delegate. It was a privilege to gather with so many inspiring women and gender policy experts. Throughout my time at CSW68, I took in countless panels/sessions and a range of interesting exhibits and displays.

On my first day at CSW, I conducted a UNA-USA Instagram takeover. It was hard to capture so many of the vibrant activities that were happening. However, one of the most resonant was a series of photos by Syed Habib Bidell and Marian Wafa in partnership with IOM UN Immigration and UN Women. The photos profiled the lives of Afghan Women. Two photos that struck me were a photo of Negina, a 15 year old Afghan teenager who is currently teaching 12 children out of her living room to ensure their access to education and another of a woman looking at her reflection and then out of her front window. Her words, “keep hope in your hearts and never give up on your dreams,” served as a poignant reminder.

As a Global Goals Ambassador, I also enjoyed the visual activation by the Republic of Indonesia which profiled female leaders for each SDG. This activation served as an important source of inspiration in my SDG Service Project and is a crucial reminder that centering women and girls at the heart of the global goals agenda has a ripple effect.

Learning to navigate the conference structure is of critical importance for any future delegate. In addition to official sessions, there are an extensive number of side events. I was able to attend official sessions on AI, education and gender apartheid. I was also able to attend numerous side events through NGO CSW, including those focused on food security, an area I am particularly passionate about.

Two of my favorite side events were Crimes Against Humanity in Afghanistan with a Gender Lens and Nourishing Change: Women as Catalysts for Food Security, Economic Development and Climate Resilience. I found it particularly compelling to learn about the challenges Afghan refugees face in obtaining legal status in a variety of countries. Despite numerous individuals applying, only a very small fraction of these are approved which further complicates the humanitarian crisis.

In particular, the main session on AI provided me with a means to analyze not only emerging technologies, but also societal structures, through a gender sensitive lens. It was shocking to learn the ways in which AI and emerging technologies can further perpetuate gender inequity and gender based violence. Whether it is through algorithmic biases, a lack of data privacy, or the furtherance of systemic and structural violence, AI and emerging technology is of critical importance. Of note, the UN announced regulations on AI to  “promote safe, secure, and trustworthy AI systems” that day (3/21/24). In the words of Ivana Bartoletti, “Equality will not happen by default.” The responsibility lies with us.
The most memorable part of my experience was the number of incredible women I met. Connecting with fellow Global Goals Ambassadors, interfacing with fellow gender equality advocates and meeting the incredible UNA-USA was a highlight. These women inspired the next phase of my journey in diplomacy- SDG Girls. While at the conference, I began to form an idea for the UNA-USA SDG Service Project Pitch Competition. In June 2024, I will travel to Washington D.C, as a finalist to pitch my proposal, SDG Girls, at the UNA-USA Leadership Summit. SDG Girls is a children’s book and curriculum for youth that seeks to center girls at the heart of the global agenda. CSW transformed the way I view gender and its intersectionality with the SDGs. I want to improve the understanding and awareness of these intersectionalities while also inspiring the next generation of women to be leaders not just in the future, but today.

Thank you to UNA-USA for this enriching opportunity. My hope is that more UNA-USA members will have an opportunity to attend CSW69 in 2025.