J King's Story
J King, Stroud High School
In March 2019 Impact Travels enabled me to accompany eighteen Sixth Form students to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City. Whilst there we attended numerous events focused on implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in terms of moving the world forward towards gender equality. We met a number of inspirational people from all walks of life, all connected through their commitment to Agenda 2030: from Girl Guides and CSO members to the British Consulate and members of the UK Royal family. Each of our students spoke at a CSW63 event giving a young person’s perspective on an issue facing women and girls in today’s society. It is no exaggeration to say that these presentations, workshops and networking opportunities were life-changing for all of us, and for myself this is true both personally and professionally.
As a well-educated professional woman, before attending CSW63 I considered myself to have a relatively good knowledge and awareness of the challenges faced by women and girls across the globe. How wrong I was. The opportunity to attend CSW63 truly opened my eyes and my heart to the reality of life for many groups of women and girls today, including those I had never taken the time to consider: the widow, the orphan and the sex worker. In an age where we are more connected than ever, where social media and the internet encourage our awareness of the struggles and issues of others but rarely inspires us to do anything more than to display temporary empathy, I realised that I had been existing in a privileged realm disconnected from the realities of millions. The most profound thing that happened to me during CSW63 was that I became connected.
On a personal level, learning about the scale of issues facing women and girls and the lifelong repercussions of their experiences in terms of education, healthcare, sanitation, infrastructure and employment has made me reconsider the way I see the world and my role within it. These repercussions affect us all and connect us all. As a professional, the opportunity to be part of such an important event and to support our students in contributing to these crucial discussions has been a career highlight, but I know that it must become more than this. Our time at CSW63 enabled us to join one of most important ongoing dialogues of modern times, and the resounding question raised was, ‘What will you do now?’
Our students co-ordinated a whole school event to cascade their learning from the CSW experience to all other year groups in our school, and we intend to reach out to other schools in the local area. This mini-CSW event empowered our students further and, crucially, our hope is that it will empower others in our community. Thanks to the CSW experience, our students find themselves now with a stronger voice and they have been proactive in seeking out opportunities to use it in the press and on social media.
We owe sincere thanks to Zarin Hainsworth and Soroush Fadaei at Impace Travels; it was a privilege to attend the commission and it is now our duty to ensure that what we have learned finds its way to others.