Prior to the summer of 2022, I had never heard of NGO CSW. As an international studies student, I’ve spent the last four years learning about how the public interacts with the United Nations. Yet, somehow I had never learned about the largest civil society platform for gender parity. Once I began working for them, I was continuously amazed at the size and diversity of our members, participants, and stakeholders.
NGO CSW/NY is a truly global community, supported by a small, dedicated team of fierce advocates. This internship has been a crash course in all things gender equality. A diverse audience means intersectional expertise, and throughout my time here I’ve gained knowledge on issues I had never interacted with before — not even within my academic environment. In a single day of CSW67 sessions, I attended meetings on digital citizenship, feminist foreign policy, and gendered democratic institutions. On this particular day, over the course of eight hours, I heard the perspectives of nine global experts on three different topics I had limited knowledge of. In the office, I had more responsibility than I have had in any other internship. I got hands-on experience with member states, mass communication, and long-term project management. Throughout my internship, I was given the room to take initiative, make mistakes, and grow.
My favorite moment of my internship was getting to interact with other young people during CSW and the NGO CSW Forum. The next generation of leaders, activists, and organizers showed up this year in droves; almost 7,000 young people attended the Forum. Moreover, I was excited to see how willing member states were to include youth voices in a genuine way. During our Civil Society Briefings, Virtual Vienna Cafe sessions, and the CSW side events, youth voices were more than a token or symbol; they were honest representations of a justice-focused generation.
Global youth must continue to cultivate a community of radical inclusion and compassion. The Youth Leaders and Young Professionals Program has the potential to be the strongest feminist youth coalition for the next generation of educated, fierce advocates. I strongly encourage any of those 7,000 young people to join the YLYP community to build their networks, learn about advocacy, and find their platform.
I want to call special attention to the LGBT community. In the past few years, we have witnessed a spike in exclusionary legislation, hateful speech, and horrific violence against queer people around the globe. The CSW67 Agreed Conclusions made no mention of queer women, who are at higher risk for poverty, poor health outcomes, and sexual violence. As we look to CSW68, we must address the ginormous hurdles faced by queer women, specifically trans women and youth. They are a vital piece of the global feminist movement, and they must be protected and valued by our community. At every opportunity, we need to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and support.
I look forward to watching NGO CSW/NY expand its advocacy. There is radical potential in our membership, and we owe it to each other to act upon it. This year, over 15,000 people registered for the NGO CSW67 Forum. 15,000 people showed up to learn from their community, contribute their ideas, and fight for gender parity on the global stage. We are at a critical point as an organization, where participation and interest is at an all time high. As NGO CSW/NY continues to bridge the gap between civil society and UN member states, we must mobilize our audience for further inclusion of gender-focused organizations in global governance. We have an unprecedented opportunity to engage member states, educate our members, and expand our reach. No one is better equipped to solve global issues than those who are most affected by them, and we need to give our members the tools to stand up and speak out.
Entering my senior year of college, I was pessimistic. I spent the majority of my college years learning from six feet apart, watching the feminist movement and established democracies backslide as the pandemic shuttered organizing and closed doors. I felt disillusioned by global governance and I was less than enthusiastic about our future. As I finish up my internship with NGO CSW/NY, I leave with optimism for the future and a reignited passion for advocacy. Meeting so many fierce advocates and enthusiastic organizers from the global community has reminded me of why I chose this field in the first place, and why we must look forward to a feminist future. It has reminded me of the importance of community and all of the ways we can learn from each other. At this critical moment, it will take all of us to move mountains.