March 21, 2023
by Sydney Stratton
Attending the United Nations has been one of my life’s most interesting learning experiences. The UN has been so much more than I expected and it is incredible to have the opportunity to be here, learning and growing from powerful individuals with extremely different viewpoints than the ones I have. I love that so many people from all different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives love women and girls at CSW 67 and want to see them succeed.
However, with that being said, I have noticed that there is a pendulum of truth at this conference. You either fall on one extreme side of the issue, or on the other side. It seems like there is no middle ground. Occasionally, and this goes for both sides of the issues, each side of the pendulum gets so tribalistic in pushing its own agenda forth that the other side does not have a chance to ask questions or have opposing views.
Why is there no middle ground? Why does the other side have to be villainized? If we cannot get along at an international level, how will we ever attain peace or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are at the heart of the UN’s purpose?
One of the things I have noticed the most is that everyone has really good ideas and cares very deeply on both sides of the issues and political spectrum. I wish we could all be able to unite together about what brings us together, rather than what divides us.
In the General Assembly hall the first day we were here, it was amazing to gather all together in order to celebrate womanhood in speech, and in song. I love being a woman and I am proud that I get to represent my fellow West Texans here at this international conference.
In one of the other meetings I went to, I was surprised at how polarizing the messages were and how one-sided this side of the pendulum was. I love women and I love fighting for women’s and girl’s rights, but are we doing so in the correct way? In one particular meeting, they were promoting equality and said, “men of quality are not afraid of equality.” It was a very good one liner. However, in the same meeting, it was said that the laws women create are better than the laws men create. How is this considered equality? Why is it okay to do to the men what we are fighting against? Why are we putting some people down in order to raise others up?
Along with this, in many of the meetings I have gone to at this conference, I have noticed that we are only promoting women in STEM and technology. That is a main idea of what this conference is about, but why do we have to polarize the other side? I am so glad that women have the opportunity to be in STEM, but what about those that want to be mothers or be in the other professions that we also need women in? How can we empower women to be in STEM and in politics without disempowering women to be mothers and in the other majors?
One of the biggest things I learned from this experience is that differing opinions are good, helpful even. But we need to be able to talk about these differences in a constructive way, without tearing down the opposing side. We need to be able to unite together with our similarities and humanity, rather than fighting over what makes us different.
Sydney is a student at Brigham Young University – Idaho and attending the Commission on the Status of Women with United Families International.