Beth is always smiling, at 7:20am during breakfast, after five hours of panels, and, especially, after gelato on a long day. Perhaps her consistent smile is a reflection of her consistency to her relationships, activism work, and personal mission. Every year from 1995 to 2009, Beth chose to live in her relative’s home in New Jersey and commute every day in order to attend CSW all by herself. Her steady commitment to activism, inspired by her personal mission and built upon relationships with other co-conspirators, has catalyzed a network of like-minded individuals in North Carolina and across the world. Different than Beth but surprisingly similar to me, Dr. Riemann is a bold woman. From passing out our event fliers to double-checking dinner reservations, Dr. Riemann is intensely aggressive in ensuring that the conditions and environments we are in cultivate our success. As individuals and as a collective team, they inspire me immensely, even when they do not make it to 6am workout plans (though I do hope to see them tomorrow)!
Beth and Dr. Riemann are the living manifestation of Paprika’s, an international drum band, message and general theme of today: “we won’t be quiet, gonna work, work it out.” CSW 63’s 9000 participants and over 400 parallel events and workshops understand that even though gender-equality problems and the social protections related to them are thorny, we will seek to invest time and energy to work, work it out, together. Their music recognized that the complexity of gender-related issues should not deter us from persisting, nevertheless, in finding solutions.
After an eventful Consultation Day, we felt revitalized in our souls, and we are so enthusiastic about presenting our work to the CSW 63 community tomorrow. At dinner, I began speaking and theorizing with Beth about the future of WomenNC which helped situate my niche research on Durham Public Schools Computer Science education in a larger movement toward greater gender-equality in North Carolina. Across the country, I am inspired by CEDAW across other cities like San Francisco and Pittsburgh and am curious on learning from them to inspire greater action by Durham local governments.
From hearing from Susan O’Malley, Chair of Committee on Status of Women/NY, Phumzile, UN Under Secretary-General, and Geraldine Byrne Nason, Permanent Mission of Ireland, I was inspired by their astute yet relatable comments that helped frame my understanding of CSW 63. Specifically, I realized that social protection systems are especially important because, across OCED countries, 20% of countries’ budget goes toward funding social protection systems. Additionally, our work as feminists seek to not look for power over men but for power over ourselves. As we heard from other panels, I recognized that intelligent and passionate individuals have dedicated their entire lives to a variety of gender-related issues, from child marriages in Bangladesh to protecting widows across Kenya, Nambia, and India. It has strengthened my personal dedication to utilizing technology in the service of society, with specific focus on ensuring equitable participation in technological engagement.