As stated above, NGOs, academics and community based organisations attend CSW for many reasons. For many, this is just one global arena where their organisation may participate in advocacy, for others this may be about connecting to grassroots organisations to share good practice. There are multiple other reasons in the spectrum of representation.
In order to make the most of CSW, it is important that you are clear about why you are attending and what you want to get out of attendance. Before deciding whether or not to attend CSW, have the discussion within your own organisation. Below are some questions you may wish to consider:
- What does the organisation hope to achieve from attending CSW?
- What do I want to achieve from attending CSW?
- Is CSW the best place to achieve these outcomes?
- Is there a way to take my position to CSW through other organisations’ attendance?
- How will we know what we have achieved from CSW, as many of the gains occur in the long-term engagement of CSW?
- How do we relay the information from CSW back to our Australian constituency?
- What actions do I need to undertake for reporting at CSW and how do I build the time for this into the full schedule presented at CSW?
- What areas should be focussed on (thematic, geographic, information gathering)?
It may be that even if you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of attending CSW, you are not prepared for the challenges of being away from home and work for two weeks. There are multiple challenges, including the long days in cold weather, the distances between each event that may make it impossible for you to gain entry to an event leaving you suddenly with an hour and half until the next scheduled event. Jet lag may have made you sleep in and miss a meeting. You may miss your family and friends.
One way to survive CSW is to plan ahead. Whether this is on a weekly or daily basis. Attend the NGO briefings to be brought up-to-date with changes in the schedule.
One key thing to remember is that the mechanisms of the United Nations turn slowly. Change is not seen immediately. Participation in CSW makes a difference. It makes a difference to you, it makes a difference to the women and men you are representing, it makes a difference to Australian women. You may not achieve your goal of meeting the Secretary-General of the United Nations while at CSW, and you may have got stuck in a queue and missed the most important presentation you needed to attend at CSW. However, use the mechanisms available to learn what you can and make use of the Caucuses and networking opportunities. Some UN building sessions are shown on the UN TV that is available in many of the hotels in midtown, for some sessions there may be a live feed in an overflow room. In some instances, sessions are live streamed onto the website. In some areas of the UN building there is free wi-fi, though it is not known if this is able to be used for web streaming. There is also free wi-fi at the UN Church Building at times. However, many internet options do not allow for web streaming so check your internet capacity, find out what is available and find the best way for you to access the information.
“Where … do universal human
rights begin? In small places,
close to home, so close and so
small that they cannot be seen
on any maps of the world. Such
are the places where every man,
woman, and child seeks equal
justice, equal opportunity, equal
dignity without discrimination.
Unless these rights have meaning
there, they have little meaning