Monday, March 14, 2016
Day Two: Shenanigans
Journal Two - CSW Conference Commences!
Day two comes to an end and it’s safe to say I’m exhausted, but in the best way possible. The first session I attended, promptly 8:30am, set the tone for a day filled with thoughtful discussion and advocacy. The panel was about human trafficking and what we can do, as civil society members, to end human trafficking. The panel included a filmmaker named Libby Spears, who’s documentary “Playground” shed light on the horrors of human trafficking for little girls. To know that human trafficking is the reality of millions of young girls and boys is saddening. These children are stripped of their childhood and exploited for years on out before they even have a chance to decide for themselves. A former trafficker named Winston Wright was also at the panel, and provided us with a rare perspective from someone, who at one point, actively participated in the exploitation and abuse of young women. I learned that like a lot of the girls who are trafficked, Winston experienced every type of abuse you can think of as a young boy. He was recruited into the trafficking ring at 14, and didn’t look back until stepping foot into a church 35 years later. He expressed remorse for partaking in such a terrible crimes, and was fully aware that not everyone in the room could forgive him.
This same panel highlighted the importance of the media when advocating and raising awareness for issues like human trafficking. “The media may be the poison but it can be the antidote” said Sheva Carr who emphasized the power of storytelling. While I heard from amazing panelist today, I want to emphasis the importance of an intersectional perspective when addressing women’s issues. Today revealed to me that there is still so much progress to be made. Filmmaker Tess Cacciatore advertised a film that was rooted in the “white savior complex”. It’s a film about a student named Samantha (who’s father is a senator) straight out of med school, who volunteers in Nigeria, with attempts to “drag Nigeria into the modern era” Take a look at it yourself here. I was very disappointed to see a white woman, whose attempts to “give a voice to the voiceless”, failed to actually highlight the voice of the Nigerian people.
Again, I want to stress the importance of the perspective of women of color. Specifically when you’re going into international communities, the viewpoints and ideas of those women who are actually living in such communities is what’s going to result in the most successful policy. While I was disappointed by Tess’ film, every other panel I attended including the panel on Child Marriage and Sexuality, Engaging Employers to Empower Women and Ensuring Gender equality in Post-disaster situations, made me more hopeful. I heard some powerful perspectives in regards to women’s issues and some amazing solutions that are actually working to empower communities; and I’m so exciting to continue learning for the rest of the week. Until next time!