Last week I had the unique pleasure of travelling to New York City with VOW Canada to attend the United Nations 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I arrived in NYC the weekend of International Women’s Day, where I appropriately began my trip marching through Manhattan to Times Square to advocate for gender equality.

As this was my first CSW, I really did not know what to expect prior to my arrival. The weight of this global conference did not really sink in until I went to pick up my pass the Sunday before CSW began. After checking in, I wandered around the ground floor, somewhat awestruck that I was actually inside the UN — an international platform that I have only ever known from academic discourse.

The underlying tone of the conference was invigorating, as I thought about the community of women and men from around the world united together for a common purpose of increasing the status of women; a purpose that I have become very passionate about in my early adult years.

While I was there to attend various panels to hear from experts on a range of topics, one of the most enjoyable aspects was getting to know the women (and man!) who were on the trip with me. I can confidently say that my experience was really maximized by spending time with other VOW members from diverse backgrounds, all who are committed to VOW and what it stands for. It was really inspirational to get to know women who have been feminists for much longer than I, and getting to learn about their quite developed ideologies. I am really grateful that I was able to foster relationships with some incredible women which I hope to maintain now that I have returned home.

In terms of panels that I was able to attend, the ones that really caught my attention were predominantly put on by Nordic countries. As a student of political science, I am often directed to various policies and approaches taken on by Nordic governments to understand the shortcomings in my own Western society.

I was thrilled to learn about such progressive policies, and took very detailed notes in hopes that one day I will be able to help the Canadian system emulate such egalitarianism and forward thinking. I cannot say that every perspective that I heard from that week was totally aligned with my personal ideology; however I can certainly recognize that with a gathering of that many individuals from so many different parts of the world, consensus is hardly attainable. Altogether, my time at CSW helped solidify my goal to dedicate my life to helping increase the status of women, whatever it is that I end up doing!