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Reflections on My First Week at CSW68: Where Backlash Meets Resilience



My first day at CSW68 as a delegate for UN Women UK opened my eyes to a profoundly concerning reality. In the session “How is backlash weakening the institutional context for gender justice globally?”, I witnessed firsthand how forces actively undermining women’s and LGBTQ+ rights are infiltrating the very institutions designed to protect us. My work with Outright International has made me acutely aware of LGBTQ+ rights suppression, but seeing this pattern on a global scale was disheartening.


The Rise of Institutional Backlash

This session focused on case studies from Lebanon to Serbia and hammered home the chilling effect of backlash when it occurs from within. What happens when a woman seeking help from the police encounters discriminatory officers or an LGBTQ+ asylum seeker faces a judge hostile to their identity? Despite the challenges, activists are finding ways to fight back, employing strategies like building solidarity networks and carefully framing their advocacy to garner broader support.


STEM as a Counterpoint

The session on women in STEM industries struck a contrasting tone. Focused on strategies for increasing participation and leadership, it highlighted opportunities for women in a field vital to the green economy transition. Yet, it begged the question – do systemic barriers and even institutional backlash play a role in the underrepresentation of women in these fields?


The Overlooked Demographic: Older Women and Economic Injustice

CSW68 often centres on young women’s leadership, so the session focused exclusively on older women was refreshing. It addressed how ageism, sexism, and economic hardship intersect to create unique challenges for this demographic. The discussions on wealth accumulation strategies resonated with me – economic empowerment can be a crucial tool for combating various forms of systemic oppression faced by women.


Feminine Principles as a Solution

A provocative session proposed a fundamental societal shift. Focusing on “feminine principles,” it questioned how society might function if women held power and explored the link between such leadership and environmental sustainability. While it offered few concrete strategies, the session sparked my imagination on how dismantling patriarchal structures is vital for the future of our planet and everyone in it.


Conclusion

My week highlighted the interconnected nature of the fight for gender equality. Whether it’s attacks on institutions, barriers in STEM, economic injustices faced by older women, or suppression of LGBTQ+ rights, they’re part of the same struggle. CSW68, while sometimes disheartening, also ignited hope within me. Solutions do exist, and the resilience of advocates across issues and borders is genuinely inspiring.

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