CSW62 Report Back | Day 2
CSW62 Report Back | Day 2
On the second day of the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), our NCOSS Delegation share their insights and experiences from the ground.
Co-CEO, Kim Young Soon, from the Future of Women’s Association from South Korea spoke about the emerging movement – the #metoo campaign – in her country. Highlighting the changes to women’s attitude towards opening up about their experiences of sexual harassments and assaults perpetuated by men. When I caught up with Ms Kim privately, she shared how surprised she was to witness the #metoo campaigns go viral, as such topics have been a taboo discussion in Korea. She told me that she is out in the field every day, strategizing with different women about the best way to share their story to make an impact on society and hold men accountable for their actions.
Australia’s Side Event – ‘Solution for Safer Digital Inclusion’ – consisted of three panel members from civil society, government and a corporate firm to demonstrate different ways of utilising digital media to engage, connect and improve women’s experience in Australia. It was particularly interesting to hear Jackie from Telstra Foundation speak about their pre-existing tech partnerships and projects with start-up companies around Australia. Examples included, but not limited to, interactive digital classroom to stamp out bullying, training librarians to become digitally savvy to better assist people that access the service and teaching coding to children aged between 9-11 years old in identified low socio-economic areas.
On a personal level, it was great to ask the representative of e-Safety Commissioner about the scope of the word ‘intimate image’ in the recently introduced Crimes (Intimate Image Abuse) Amendment Bill 2017. As ‘intimate image’ is defined restrictively on a two-limb test of:
(1) Is the image of a person’s private parts or a person engaging in private act?
(2) Would a reasonable person in the circumstance reasonably expect privacy?
(Note: and the same two-limb tests applies for altered image as well)
The current definition of ‘intimate image’ leaves gaps for LGBTIQ identifying community members or sex workers as potential ‘outting’ images would not meet the threshold to trigger the application of the new law. The representative of the e-Safety Commissioner agreed with the gap, acknowledged the sensitivity around 'outting' threats in LGBTIQ identifying community members and responded diplomatically about discussions that need to be had to address the gaps in the current legislation.
Today the European Union and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya co-hosted a screening and discussion of two short documentary films depicting Libyan women’s fight for basic human rights and their struggle for equality.
The first 25 minutes of the session were expended by the Ambassador (Head of the EU delegation) and the Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Libya (both male), who provided an overview of the issues Libya faced, discussed local policy and their Government’s actions and achievements.
Following this, the first screening of the documentary ‘Silence’, offered a rare insight in to the life of a young female artist who through her art, challenges the endemic violence and gender inequality in her society. The artist came up against backlash from the authorities who consistently threatened to shut her art show down. Her work depicted women’s inability to speak, lack of decision-making power, their lack of freedom and their dangerous reality. The documentary also showed people visiting and enjoying the art, most of whom were men.
This artist was eventually (but temporarily) silenced when the building owner decided to evict her and her work from the premises. He did this by cornering her, verbally abusing her and telling her that her ‘whorehouse’ would be shut down. She said that ‘People gathered around and watched as if enjoying the sight of a girl being yelled at. To them you are out of the home and that is wrong’.
The second documentary, ‘’Salha Song’, depicted the lives of young women living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp. It showed the hope young people had and the importance of having a home (and returning to that home), returning to school and to their neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the 2nd documentary was cut short by the Ambassadors due to time restrictions.
Finally we heard from Khadija Boasishi (from Tripoli University), Fadia Hamad (from the Sabha Womens Union) and Najla Abraham (member of the Women’s Network) to combat small arms. They described life In Banghazi, particularly the lives of those women who manage to forge a career. For example, when a female doctor in a hospital cares for a patient and that patient dies, the family of the patient blame the female doctor, and can abuse and violate her. Equally, when a female lawyer wins a case, there is an inevitable and imminent attack on the female lawyer from the opposition, leaving her with no tools to enforce the law.
The session was quickly moved on by the EU Ambassador to the Q & A. Three questions were asked about firearms, abortion and other platforms to showcase the work of the women. Unfortunately the Ambassador did not allow the questions to be answered and the session ended.
The session depicted a very clear, yet sobering picture of life in Libya for women. It also showed that a new kind of unrest is brewing – that of the young women. Young women who are brave, determined and bring hope to Libya and its women.
Women are not good at lifting each other up; at least in my experience we are not. We are taught to see each other as competition, compare ourselves, and make an assessment on each other based on shallow things like thinness and beauty.
This is taught to us at a very young age.
And unfortunately, that competitiveness and divisiveness have been prevalent throughout my life.
I know I’m guilty myself of judging other women and I know for certain I have been judged and treated harshly by others who see me either as a threat or undeserving of what I have.
But as Elizabeth Broderick, the founder of the Australian initiative Male Champions of Change so eloquently put it today on the second day of CSW62; we are much stronger if we walk side by side.
We are much stronger as a group of people – no matter your gender identity – walking together to achieve gender equality, and we are much stronger as a group of women if we are accepting of differences and walk together.
Yesterday I talked about intersectionality and accepting people for the things they have no choice in, their race, gender and sexual identity, the class they are born into and the place they are from.
When I found myself surrounded by feminists and like-minded people I thought I had escaped the narrow rhetoric surrounding what a woman is supposed to be, I thought I had escaped ignorance and discrimination.
I was wrong.
Women, even those women who are part of the feminist movement can be hurtful and dismissive and belittle other women’s choices.
Even since preparing for and attending CSW62 I have heard things like ‘why would you wear makeup, it’s a feminist conference’, or ‘your shoes are prescribed by the patriarchy’, which was said to a woman wearing heels.
Perhaps if the women saying these things took a moment to understand the choices the woman they are judging has made, their view may be different.
It is unhelpful to call a woman ‘un-feminist’ for shaving or waxing, for wearing heels or for wearing makeup (or judging them for not doing these things for that matter). If we keep fighting amongst ourselves about what feminism is the patriarchy will continue to prevail.
Today I saw a young woman pull out a vial of nail polish, sitting on the floor of the hallway of the UN headquarters.
I heard another woman make a snide remark about the young women caring more about their appearance than about the important tasks at hand.
The two women didn’t know each other, they didn’t know one another’s stories. However, one woman felt it was her place to judge another, a woman who was inhabiting the same space, who was at the same feminist conference and for all she knew could have been someone of high importance (although each woman is equally important no matter what their role or career path is).
Besides the fact that the beauty industry is an industry that employs mostly women, but what about choice? Isn’t that what we’re fighting for? So that we can have choice?
I know that heels and makeup are traditionally used to make women feel bad, but what if I make those things work for me. What if I take those things and make them my feminist weapons?
To me, makeup is a weapon. I put it on to make myself look just slightly older so maybe people take me seriously. Same with heels, I put them on when I want to hear myself walk (That click, click sound fills me with such pride) and when I need to feel like I am a force when I walk into a room.
I don’t care what footwear you’ve got on. Just walk with me instead of judging me. We’re stronger that way.
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