The United Nations Headquarters is international territory positioned within the USA. One of the key principles of the UN is ‘to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples’ (UN Charter).
CSW is an amazing event that brings together women from around the world who are working for the empowerment of women. At events you will meet women and men from different countries and groups with very different viewpoints. There are multiple languages spoken and many different ways to present information. It is important that you take with you to CSW a mental suitcase of patience, tolerance and an open mind to learn what is on offer. Leave stereotypes behind and open yourself up to the experiences that learning about another culture can bring. Hear the voices of the young women who are the future voices at the UN.
As an Australian, remember that we have some ground-breaking work happening in our own Indigenous, migrant and refugee communities. Learn a little about it before you head to CSW so that you can be positive about that work. Be careful not to paint only the picture of the problem. Language can be misconstrued in cross-cultural settings. Make space in presentations for clarifying remarks and questions. Check if what you are saying is what is being heard.
Try not to pressure others into doing what they may not wish to do. In some cultures, it is not acceptable to volunteer to come forward to speak, or to stand while speaking. In others there may not be a concept of each person speaking for five minutes. Communication is key to understanding.