CSW 2010: What do young women of the YWCA think?

For some, the idea of a United Nations meeting with thousands of women from around the world sounds like a nightmare. For the young women of the World YWCA delegation who will attend the 54th  session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York from March 1-12, it’s a dream come true.

We ask them what they are looking forward to at CSW 2010 and what are the issues facing young women as we head in to the next 15 years…

Chelsey Butchereit: YWCA Salt Lake City Staff and 2010 World YWCA CSW Intern

Age: 28

Chelsey Butchereit

Chelsey Butchereit, YWCA USA and World YWCA CSW 2010 intern

Why are you looking forward to attending CSW 2010?

I am looking forward to attending CSW 2010 because it is a wonderful opportunity to learn, connect, act, grow and be inspired. I’m interested in seeing the review of the 15 years since the Beijing Platform for Action unfold. Perspectives on past efforts, an understanding of present challenges, and a further defining of the work still needing to be done will be presented. I feel blessed to be a young woman participant in this process to learn how to further engage in this important work!

What do you believe is one of the most important issues facing young women in the next 15 years?

To demonstrate that all women and girls are important. I find the Girl Effect inspiring because it demonstrates that all women and especially girls are valuable and have potential to change the world. This is a message that needs to be carried far and wide especially by young women. We can continue to advocate that the voices of young women are heard but also advocate to create spaces for girls’ voices to be heard too.

What are you hoping to experience by attending CSW 2010?

I hope to gain new friendships and connections especially with YWCA women from around the world. I also hope to join my voice and efforts to that of others in the collective endeavour to create a more peaceful world by addressing the inequalities and injustices that women and girls around the world face from day to day.



Jess Notwell : World YWCA Vice President and YWCA Canada



Why are you looking forward to attending CSW 2010?


CSW 2010 will be an amazing opportunity to gather a snapshot of women’s human rights globally through review of member states’ progress on implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.  It will be a place to celebrate women’s leadership and the accomplishments of our heroes and role models like Mildred Persinger, Wangari Maathai, Mary Robinson and Musimbi Kanyoro.  It will also be a space where young women’s leadership is highlighted and valued, and where we have a collective opportunity to make change.  I can’t wait to connect with incredible women from across the global YWCA family and beyond while we stand up for women’s human rights.     


What do you believe is one of the most important issues facing young women in the next 15 years?


Young women moving to the forefront of the global women’s movement, to be accomplished through successful intergenerational leadership and power-sharing by older women


What are you hoping to experience by attending CSW 2010?

I am hoping to make many new friends and to expand my network of women around the world.  I also hope to lobby for change, contribute effectively to the World YWCA team, and work together to make an impact on the outcomes of CSW.


Sarah Davies : World YWCA Staff and former YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand

Age: 28


Why are you looking forward to attending CSW 2010?


It will be an amazing opportunity to take part in the largest women’s meeting of the year. I am looking forward to witnessing the lobbying and advocacy that will take place at the CSW and hope to hear member states reporting positively on progress in their countries since the BPFA was adopted. Ideally, I hope CSW is a meeting where we see and feel a genuine commitment to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

I am also very interested in hearing the leading UN women leaders address the concerns of the women’s movement but equally, hope there will be space for the voices of grassroots women and young women to be heard.

What do you believe is one of the most important issues facing young women in the next 15 years?


Violence against women has become pandemic and it has to be addressed now. I have had the amazing opportunity to be part of World YWCA young women’s trainings in the Caribbean and Asia Pacific on the issues of violence against women sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV and AIDS in the past year and the stories I heard from young women were extremely disturbing. Violence against women has become culturally acceptable all over the world and many young women are growing up believing that violence in the home, school, church and community is part of the reality of being a woman. We can’t afford to be silent about this issue any more and member states must display the political will to ensure they place this on top of their agendas.

Linked to that, educating young women on their SRHR is equally important. At the trainings I attended where we had a safe space to talk as young women about SRHR, I was disturbed to hear a number of trends including:

  • Transactional sex is very common – sex for school / uni fees/ designer clothes
  • Sugar Daddies  – the older man that puts you up in a nice apartment in the city but you better be there 24 hours a day so he can pop on in when he feels like it
  • Multiple partners  – it’s accepted that when you get married, the likelihood is your husband will have extra marital affairs
  • Teenage pregnancy was very common. You just have to know the right people to take care of it and if not, friends will undertake an abortion procedure for you
  • In some countries, anal sex is very popular amongst young women as there is a perception that you still remain a virgin and will not contract HIV or STIs –and at the same time, if you have anal sex with your boyfriend, you are still offering him some form of penetrative sex so he will not look elsewhere.
  • Had a blinkie lately? A blinkie is when a man ejaculates in your eye and this sexual act is taking place in some parts of the world because with a blinkie, ‘you can’t get pregnant or HIV’ along with the added benefit of ‘keeping your virginity.

I don’t want the young women of the world navigating their way through a world of blinkies, do-it-yourself-abortion procedures or trading their bodies for some nice shoes. They are worth much more.

What are you hoping to experience by attending CSW 2010?

I am looking forward to meeting members of the YWCA delegation but also making new friends and contacts with other youth, women and faith based organisations. It’s always exciting and simulating to be surrounded by like-minded passionate people. And I also heard Hillary Clinton may come and address the meeting- that would be a dream come true to watch her speak live.

CSW 2010: World YWCA ready to review the Beijing Platform for Action

A World YWCA delegation will head to New York City to participate in the fifty-fourth session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) from March 1 – 12, 2010.

The theme for the session will focus on reviewing and appraising the Beijing Platform for Action, which was drafted and adopted 15 years ago at the Beijing World Conference on Women.

The delegation will call on the Commission on Status of Women to consider new approaches-built from the accomplishments and challenges of the past 15 years-to accelerate transformative actions for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

“World YWCA has participated at CSW since the start of the commission in 1948. As the leading international platform for advancing women’s human rights, CSW continues to be an important event for the World YWCA,” said World YWCA General Secretary Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda who will lead the delegation of over 40 women and young women along with World YWCA President Susan Brennan.

Over the next few weeks, follow the Women Leading Change Blog as the World YWCA delegation reports from CSW.