Muskaan Waraich returned last week from the 67th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67), which took place in New York City from March 6 to 17.
The second-year student, who is studying a double-major in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, travelled as part of a delegation for Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW), a non-profit organization for which she volunteers, with financial support from the Faculty of Social Sciences.
But Waraich says her journey to the United Nations (UN) headquarters last week actually began last September when she attended Camp 2030, a global gathering of youth leaders hosted by UNITE 2030 to innovate around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Through Camp 2030, I had the chance to learn about the United Nations International Organization, including the CSW and how it could be helpful in developing my current projects working toward the SDG 2030 Agenda,” she says.
Waraich began researching organizations that might be sending delegations and made a strong connection with VOW back in the fall.
“Their goals aligned with mine because they’re Canada’s oldest national feminist peace group,” she says. “They’re nonpartisan and nonprofit, working towards women’s equal opportunity and having women’s voices heard on a local, national and international level on issues concerning peace.”
Waraich’s experience at CSW67 began with a session held by a panel of Canadians including Senator Marilou McPhedran to help prepare young participants to best engage in the conference by offering advice and tips.
Then followed several days of conference sessions on topics related to the theme of “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
Waraich, who works as a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Peer Mentor in Human Rights and Equity at Brock, was particularly interested in many of the connections between technology, education and GBV.
But her commitment to the SDGs came into full view during the event, as well.
“I’m very passionate about gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and it is important to understand barriers such as lack of access to education, poverty, gender-based violence, climate change and discrimination — these are all factors working against gender equality,” she says. “Through the whole CSW, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of how each SDG intersects with another and all must work together in order to achieve gender equality for all women and girls.”
Dean Ingrid Makus in the Faculty of Social Sciences was thrilled to hear that Waraich would attend CSW67.
“We in the Faculty were delighted to learn that Muskaan had taken the initiative and found an opportunity to attend such a significant event with global impact,” says Makus. “We are now excited to have her bring this experience and learning back to our community here at Brock.”
Waraich says that her experience has left her with strong hopes that others will seek out opportunities to get involved in working toward change, be it in their own communities, mobilizing on behalf of marginalized groups or taking part in global efforts.
“I don’t think I’m special — anyone can get involved, and everyone needs to be involved with the Sustainable Development Goals, because they aren’t just one individual effort,” she says. “We can all take steps, develop projects, receive grants and find opportunities for youth. This is our world, our planet, and many scary things are happening around the world but this conference reminded me that there is still change possible.”