CSW – Women, Media, Revolution: Amplifying voices of women living on and reporting from the frontlines

This panel, organised by Joan B. Kroc Institute for peace and justice, was by far one of the most energising and interesting panels for readers, bloggers, writers, activists and social media observers. Some of the questions shared in this panel had to do with how women are represented in the media: “How women are covered, when women are covered, and how women are not covered in media.” Women are mostly represented in lifestyle categories, and the category where women are the scarcest is in foreign affairs. There is a deafening silence from women that is enforced through the headlines, and the question that presents itself is: Should women be “exposed”, should they be pointed out, or should they be left alone.

Interesting observations were shared by the very active media panellists – from journalists to bloggers to women film-makers – covering stories of women from different parts of world. Some of the perspectives shared had to do with working towards civic journalism that goes beyond “state power” – and the target to change the way a story is told in order to sell the story.

In the discussion that followed, panellists also shared some of the sources they feel are the best to “get news from.” One of the panellists went as far as suggesting to turn the TV off altogether, and not to be a passive receiver of news and to know that there are viewers’ rights to be aware of before coming across commercials. Some of the suggested sources for news reading shared were the Christian Science Monitor, Global Post, the Atlantic, and the New Yorker and Vanity Fair foreign posts. Grit Daily and independent documentaries made to address issues of women were suggested viewing. Two of the influential documentaries shared were Abigail Disney’s “Women war and peace” series and Mimi Chakarova’s “The price of sex.”

YWCA in action at CSW

For the YWCA delegation, the first day of CSW was one that was full of much learning, sharing and coming together as a global movement.  We have been working hard on our advocacy programme. The first day saw us finalise a statement that we are now sharing with Government delegates and other advocates around how we suggest the conclusions statement may be strengthened. Key priorities include a stop to early marriage of girls, reducing violence against women, young women and girls, increasing rural women’s access to sexual and reproductive health, supporting rural women impacted by HIV and AIDs and increasing rural women’s access to a decent wage and livelihood.

The YWCA led and participated in many sessions. Particular highlights included the intergenerational workshop and the young women’s caucus. There were also exciting network opportunities created. The Australian Human Rights Office organised a coming together of Australian and Asia Pacific NGO delegates and it was fantastic to get to know each other and hear the ways each organisation is working in the region.

Reflecting back on the day, many of us felt that we had crammed weeks of learning into this one day. Already we are witnessing an increase in confidence in many of our YWCA women, and young women from the YWCA are taking leadership roles across CSW – presenting at workshops, convening the young women’s caucus, attending side events and meeting many people.  If this is what we have achieved in one day, imagine at the end of two weeks… It is so exciting to imagine sending these young women back into their local communities and local YWCAs.