By YWCA of Canberra Executive Director, Rebecca Vassarotti
CSW has not yet started but YWCA is already working to progress issues that we believe are key to improving the lives of rural women.
Over the last few days, YWCA women from around the world have been converging in New York to ensure the voices of local women are heard at the 56th session of the Commission for the Status of Women. Women from countries including Trinidad Tobago, Sweden, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Eqypt, Australia, the United States of America, Liberia, Kenya, Finalnd and Columbia are participating in the YWCA delegation to this year’s CSW. On Friday we prepared through an introduction and orientation to UN Human Rights system and CSW, shared our experiences of the issues facing women in our countries and considered the key issues that we believe should be addressed by governments meeting at CSW. Key issues that emerged included the importance of the use of language that is appropriate and accessible for rural women, ensuring that leadership models are able to be accessed by rural and particularly young women, that violence against women as a key priority, access to health services, particularly sexual and reproductive health rights and services.
On Saturday 25th, a number of delegates attended the Ecumenical Women’s session and joined women’s faith based organisations in planning advocacy for the event. Michelle Deshong, member of the YWCA Australia delegation provided a powerful and thought provoking reflection of the experience of Aboriginal women living in Australia.
We also joined together to reflect on what the task ahead was, how best to support each other and the group and what specific roles would be required over the two weeks of the Commission session.
While CSW is yet to begin, the World YWCA delegation is coming together as an immensely talented team who is no doubt going to make an incredible impact at the meeting. Collectively we have committed to honouring the privileged that has been afforded to us in representing the 25 million women and girls who are part of the YWCA. We hope to give voice to the women who are part of the 22000 communities in which we work and aim to be an authentic voice to rural women, and provide a link for rural and local women to international policy and decision making. This is a huge responsibility. However, getting to know the amazing women who are part of this delegation, I am energized and inspired that we will make a difference to the lives of women through participating in this event