UNCSW61 Wrap Up: Day 3

By Jessica Wescott, Victoria University

For the third day of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, we trekked through the still snow-filled streets of Manhattan and entered Australia! Yes, that’s right, today we were based on Australian soil at the Australian Consulate-General in New York City; headquarters to the Australian Mission to the United Nations and the offices of the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, HE Ms. Gillian Bird.

First on our agenda was a CSW panel entitled, ‘Preventing violence against women and girls in the digital and technological age to facilitate increased participation in education and work’. Moderated by the Australian Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, the panel featured former Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja, chair of OurWatch; chair of the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance and WESNET Australia Julie Oberin and the Executive Vice President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence Cindy Southworth. The message of the panel was clear: technology is being gravely misused to perpetuate violence against women and girls, through surveillance, abuse, unauthorised material distribution and more. Panellists discussed the importance of government funding to civil sector organisations that develop and implement training programs educating frontline workers and victims in protecting themselves online. Ms. Stott-Despoja additionally discussed the work of OurWatch in developing the online resource ‘The Line’, as well as specifically targeted advertising aimed at promoting the key theme, ‘you can’t undo violence,’ to young men.

Delegates then met with the Australian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, HE Caitlin Wilson, to discuss Australia’s role in multilateral organisations and the country’s areas of engagement for CSW. Ambassador Wilson provided key insights into the pillars that Australia operates on in their Mission to the United Nations, the operation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as our focus on obtaining a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018-2020. This was an invaluable opportunity to engage with a high-level diplomat versed in domestic, bilateral and multilateral issues.

Meeting with Australian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, HE Caitlin Wilson.

Meeting with Australian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, HE Caitlin Wilson.

After a quick jaunt to Starbucks (when in Rome…), delegates met with Amanda McIntyre, Head of the Office for Women in the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. As the top advisor to the Minister of Women and the head of the official government delegation to CSW, Ms. McIntyre discussed her role in government and at CSW.

The second panel held by the Mission was a conversation on increasing female participation in the workforce. Featuring Judith Van Unen of JERA International; the Fijian Minister for Women, Meresini Vuniwaqa; New Zealand powerhouse Helen Swales; and investor, female mentor and activist Hitha Palepu, the panel looked at the various structural barriers contributing to the workforce participation gap. This includes male-dominated employment, the lack of entitlements for women, stereotypes and the inflexibility of roles. The panellists discussed various solutions or frameworks being implemented in their organisations and countries in order to empower women in a quest to address the problem.

Continuing a jam-packed day, delegates attended a meeting with the Deputy Secretary for Social Policy in the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Lin Hatfield Dodds. Ms. Dodds spoke about leadership, participation and her own personal history as a successful NGO director, psychologist and government advisor with candour and frankness, entertaining us while also discussing difficult social policy issues.

We then ended our day at the conference with the Australian civil sector briefing held by our three CSO representatives of the official government delegation. This provided a prime opportunity for reflection and discussion amongst non-government delegates, as well as for official representatives to inform us of the nature of negotiations and how we can contribute to Australia achieving their objectives at CSW. 

Despite the hectic schedule, the day proved to be insightful and inspiring, as we met with incredibly influential women and continued to learn about the multiple problems and solutions being discussed on an international level. I look forward to continuing the conversation, and am confident that the thousands of women who have attended the Commission from all over the world will do so too.

Quarterly Access Journal: Kaitlyn Krahe Contributor

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Kaitlyn attended the 2016 OECD Forum where she represented Victoria University. As part of the Global Voices Scholarship Kaitlyn researched maternal-infant health outcomes among Indigenous Australians. Her research was published in the Australian Institute of International Affairs journal Quarterly Access. You can read her research here or copy the following URL into your browser: http://bit.ly/kaitlyn-research

New Matilda Contributor: Kaitlyn Krahe


In a recent contribution to New Matilda, OECD delegate and Victoria University student Kaitlyn Krahe discussed the importance of collecting reliable data from Indigenous Australians in the 2016 census.

You can read the article on the New Matilda website here or by copying the following URL into your browser http://bit.ly/kaitlyn-newmatilda

Pictured: Victoria University Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) student, Kaitlyn Krahe

Pictured: Victoria University Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) student, Kaitlyn Krahe

Kaitlyn recently returned from the OECD Forum in Paris. In her research Kaitlyn posited solutions to address the disparate maternal health outcomes between Australian indigenous and non-indigenous women.

Kaitlyn traveled to the OECD Forum as a Global Voices Scholar. We are proud to provide these opportunities with the support of our partners including Victoria University and Qantas Airways.

OECD Delegate: Kaitlyn Krahe

Kaitlyn Krahe s currently studying to be a paramedic at Victoria University and will attend the OECD Forum in Paris. In addition to co-founded Victoria University's Womens Collective she also won several academic awards. Kaitlyn is also the President of Victoria University's Student Paramedic Association. 

Kaitlyn has been active in grassroots campaigning and advocacy work for several years and has always believed that knowledge is a powerful tool in the process of effecting change. As part of the Global Voices Research Fellowship program Kaitlyn will research Australia’s Indigenous health policy and posit new ideas to address the current disparity in outcomes. 

If Kaitlyn could meet anyone, alive or dead, she would love to meet Nelson Mandela. Having recently stood in the tiny jail cell at Robben Island she found herself overwhelmed and humbled. To Kaitlyn, Mandela’s legacy embodies what it means to show courage and resilience in the face of adversity.

Victoria University is a valued partner of Global Voices and supports us in our mission to provide opportunities for young Australians to engage with global issues and policy making.