As I look back at the trips to NYC to visit the UN and participate in the CSW, I cannot help but think of the hardwork and the dedication of many people working to empower women throughout the world. Many people who attended the briefings and spoke in front of others, were willing to tell their stories and make their experiences real for everybody willing to listen. As difficult as the stories were for those involved, they knew informing others can be one of the only ways their voices will ever be heard.
One of the most unexpected and startling briefings I attended involved the sexual trafficking of Native American women in Minnesota. The percentages of women and children involved in sexual trafficking were astronomical. Yet, how many Americans have any idea that Native American women and children are suffering from this? And how many people understand that the men who are pimping them usually do not get more than a slap on the wrist from the law? Problems such as this still exist within the United States and most Americans are unaware. How can more people become aware and what can be done so this does not occur anymore?
While the CSW was filled with many heart-rending stories and experiences, people still found plenty of time to smile, laugh, and talk with new and old friends. The March of 8th Celebration March allowed a special time for those involved in the 56th CSW to join hands, march together, and make their voices, songs, and dances seen and heard. Following a march around a few NYC blocks, where women could be heard beating drums, chanting, and laughing, everybody joined together in a large group to sing the 56th CSW's theme song together. This song focuses on never looking back to the past and continuing to empower women throughout the world. I think if everyone could take something from the 56th CSW, it could be that we should not focus on past challenges and problems, but the problems of today and the new solutions that women and men all over the world are developing and using to empower women for the lives they will lead and the knowledge they will share.