As I walked into the overflow chamber to watch the live stream of the official opening of the CSW, I was overwhelmed by the amount of women in the room, each wearing there national pride on there sleeve and ready to get down to the business of gender equality. Though the opening was bitter sweet, as we all reflected on Beijing Platform of Action and how no country was able to attain gender equality, a renewed sense of hope and commitment was building in the room as speaker after speaker brought context and experience to the largely etherial goals that are being discussed at this years CSW.
After rounds of applause and cheers of support for many speakers who came before her a determined young women took the podium by the name of Alaa Murabit. Alaa Murabit is a Saskatoon woman who moved in Libya when she was 15. Her short and impassioned speech articulated the need for building bridges across generations and working with each other. She swiftly points out that our mother’s and our grandmother’s generations of women were the original rule breakers, and the young women of today learned our passion, our eagerness, and our resolve from the generations before us. The need to move forward recognizing the work of previous generations and building on top of it together. This woman simultaneously thanked and united generations with a few short sentences and then moved onto her experience of starting her own organization when she was 21, called the Voice of Libyan Women, in which she became one of Moammar Gadhafi’s 11 most-wanted women. Living through a dictatorship, a revolution and a civil war, she discussed the need for women to be part of the peace process and how they are “leading the fight against extremism by challenging its root cause. […] the price of admission for a seat at peace talk seems to be a weapon.” She pushes people to use informal education and words as weapons to tear down systems of oppression. Peace must involve the communities, happen day by day, and across genders with the guidance and assistance of those who came before.
Though all the speakers were engaging and passionate, Alaa Murabit touched my heart with her uniting words that spoke to forward motion toward equality, across gender, religion, sexuality and cultural background.
I encourage you to read her whole speech at the link below and here is a supplementary CBC article for more background.
Alaa Murabit Full Speech
Alaa Murabit Full Speech