UN Commission on the Status of Women

Jessica Knieff CONTRIBUTER

Spring break looked a lot different for six Washburn students who spent it resting up after a week at the United Nations, 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City.

The theme of the UN CSW this year is “Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the Changing World of Work.” The students learned about complex issues that affect women around the globe and ways they can work to address them.

Accompanied by theater professor, Sharon Sullivan, the students had unique experiences meeting leaders from around the world, having dinner with other young leaders in an old church in Harlem, and even enjoying a snow day when a blizzard hit New York City.

The week began with a sigh of relief after a long plane ride and a taxi cab driver that seemed to only know how to use the gas pedal. The six representatives arrived at the hotel late on a Saturday and prepared for what would be an exciting week.

The first morning began with a lively performance from the UN singers at Consultation Day. This day is the kick off event for the CWS and attendees got the chance to hear from some of the most esteemed women leaders from around the world including Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Woman of Distinction Awardee, Dr. Mabel Bianco, and many more. Best selling author Rupi Kaur even made an appearance and dazzled the audience with a performance of her poetry.

Many speakers and panels of prestigious women spoke about their experiences in advocating for women and fighting for equality. The Consultation Day was very informative and gave the students a strong foundation to go forth and learn throughout the rest of the week.

For these students, the following six days were filled with lots of walking, pizza slices between panels, one broadway show and the exhaustion that comes with absorbing all the knowledge they could from people with amazingly different and unique experiences.

There was plenty for each of the students to learn, regardless of their chosen majors or career paths. Each student learned new things about injustices in other parts of the world that they may have never otherwise learned of. They learned about the ways that inspiring individuals around the globe are fighting for equality in all aspects.

The students all left with new friends and allies around the world who will serve as resources as they go forth and apply what they learned on this trip. From this “Washburn Transformational Experience” each student learned more about themselves and in turn, grew as individuals and as advocates for equality.