It was the 2nd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and I still felt as overwhelmed as my first time attending one of those. Probably even more. These conferences have always kept me on the edge of my seat. I mean, how does one adequately prepare for 440 events? Being the curious individual that I am, I wanted to listen to everything in my area and even outside that. But wait, what is my area even? This year’s theme was on the empowerment of rural girls, and boy, do not even get me started on this one. I am furthest from a damsel in distress, however, I am a village girl through and through. Consequently, as a child, I felt every once in a while, how terribly disadvantaged I was; me, the rural kid as compared to other town children.
But now that I look at it through new lens, I find it ironical. The way we find ourselves wanting to be closely associated with urban areas than we do with the rural areas where we actually hail from. Don’t those very rural areas have so much cleaner air, space for projects, and often well endowed with food? A lot was discussed and shared at CSW and I took a few lessons home with me. The one that topped the list for me is, you do not dim your own light when you light another’s. CSW is such an empowering space. It reminds me of the sun which just keeps on shining; clouds, rain, hail or not. There is a lot of people to meet, networks to make, partners to be found, collaborations to be formed. However, there’s a space and time for each person to connect with the other.
For a long time, I have sat with myself and asked if charity is the way to go. Non-Governmental Organisations in the past used to be known as charitable institutions, and they have been accused of promoting a hand-out culture in the communities which they operate. In this second CSW, I sat and listened to stories from all over the world. I have looked into the eyes of their different narrators, sometimes teary and sometimes not. I know for sure that I feel the plight of women so deeply in my heart. Different examples are fresh in my memory. But I also know that empowerment is not equal to hand-outs. Eventually, organizations will have to rethink their strategies. There is a space for civil society. There is an influence they have on communities that cannot be ignored. However, charity is unsustainable. Period. That would be my lesson number two.
Lesson number 3 is that preparation is key. Always has been. Get-Up Taiwan favored me to speak about Internet Generation Action in light of rural women empowerment. I prepared for this presentation, and it went really well. However, I sat in certain auditoriums as part of an audience and I felt inadequate. Nina Simone rightly put it, I try to swim every day I can and now I’ve learned to scuba dive and snorkel” It gets better with each and every presentation. I relate better with presenters whom I have looked up, or topics which I have read about.
Lastly, put your best foot forward or do not put it out there at all. One day as I was going about my business, a lady stopped me to say hi. She asked if we had shared flights, and we had. Another day, one woman said she must have seen me in a certain meeting. Well, this was the largest gender meeting in the world, anyone might have seen me. But then she said, “I am pretty sure you do have a friend with dreadlocks (Nelly, this would be you). I must have seen you with her.” That brief encounter left me with a lesson, however small. We do not just get lost in a crowd. In the same way I would notice someone in a crowd, many others may notice me. Get noticed for good!
On my way out of this place, I’d like to say that this year’s CSW has made me appreciate authenticity. I’m realizing that it is possible to tell the phoneys from the real ones. And to share with you, those that truly have a course at heart; you can see the passion burn in them. You can even see it in their eyes if you are attentive enough.
Would you like to learn more about CSW and even maybe be part of it in the future? Visit: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw
I decided to do this post because every once in a while, we are looking for a worthwhile cause to be part of but we do not know where these organizations can be found or even how to get started on participating in their activities. Hope you found this helpful! Also, are you part of a group that is impacting change in society and you’d like more people to get involved in it? Kindly reach out to me to feature a post on this blog about your organization and its activities. We will be more than delighted to have you here. (There are no charges)
This post was done by the wonderful and elegant Edith Kemunto. She is a delightful soul to say the least and a writer in her own capacity. She is passionate about God, people and women and their rights. Hence her active participation in CSW conferences. We went to the same college for I think 2 years and never once spoke to each other lol. Can you believe that? But I wish we knew each other earlier in life because this girl is amazing! Check her out on Facebook at: Edith Nyamwange on FB