Day 2 at the Commission on the Status of Women

One of the most rewarding components of the annual IRSAM trip to the Commission on the Status of Women is the well-planned visits to various Permanent Missions to the United Nations. Our delegation this year will have the opportunity to visit four of these important Turtle Bay neighbourhood institutions – the Missions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Tunisia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Canada. This morning marked the first of these four visits with a 10am appointment at the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.

From the moment our delegation entered the high-rise building in which the Iranian Permanent Mission is located, we were struck by the relaxed and convivial nature with which we were treated by the Mission staff. The conference room was beautifully decorated, and we were provided with warm drinks, traditional Iranian candies, and even the gift of boxed DVD sets featuring Iranian cultural sites. Our meeting took place with Second Counsellor Mr. Ezzatollah Hemmati. We listened to a presentation ranging on a variety of topics and had the chance to engage in conversation surrounding Iranian political positions, some in reference to women’s issues.

We headed to the UN Headquarters for the rest of the day at mid-day with hopes of attending a town hall meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres in the ECOSOC Chamber. However, several of us were not able to obtain one of the 500+ free tickets to get into the chamber in time. A few of us took the time to relax in the empty Security Council Chamber where we were able to reflect on our experiences over the past two days. Elisabeth Hedström and I recorded a video regarding the Security Council session yesterday. As a warning, the audio isn’t great but we are working on this.

Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I attended the following side-events:

  • Women and Girls With Disability in Rural Areas
  • Women, Migration, and Refugee Crises
  • From Girls to Women: Gender-Based Violence Across the Life Course
Gifts of Turkish delight and coffee from the Government of Turkey and Organization of Islamic Cooperation

While these three events weren’t anything to write home about in terms of content, I was able to experience the value of attending a wide variety of CSW events for networking purposes. At the final event of the evening on gender-based violence (GBV), I was able to speak with two of the panelists – the first, Michelle Nunn, ran to be a Democratic U.S. Senator in my home state of Georgia and we chatted about how voting for her was my very first election after turning 18. Nunn is now the president and CEO of CARE USA, a “leading humanitarian organization that fights global poverty and provides lifesaving assistance in emergencies.” The second was Mary Ellsberg, a scholar at the George Washington Universal Global Women’s Institute specializing in issues of GBV with a global health perspective. Coincidentally, I was recently accepted to this university and to a Master’s program in which she is a faculty member; we spoke briefly about this program and she encouraged me to contact her with any questions I might have. While attending these events didn’t necessarily teach me an immense amount of information, I was able to make connections and linkages that likely would not have otherwise occurred. The utility of conferences such as CSW is so much more than merely the events – it’s about the people, the small moments of connection, and the understanding that we are all ultimately here to learn as much as possible.

If you would like to follow along with CSW62, head over to Twitter for real-time updates from my personal account or the McGill International Review account for daily highlights. This is an evolving and adaptable project, so if you have any suggestions or comments feel free to reach out to me via email at