I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review in Bangkok. I was able to observe the process and participate as a young woman of Malaysia representing civil society, and along the way I managed to write my first impressions after the first day of the official review, having observed an explosive and exciting first day of senior officials debating and discussing language that would affect the rights of women across the region. These thoughts were published in the daily newsletter produced by UN Women Asia. It’s available online here and available as a PDF here.
“Can we step up and meet the call of history?” Kamala Chandrakirana, Asia-Pacific Women’s Alliance for Peace and Security (APWAPS) at Plenary 2: Our Lives 20 Years on – The Continuing Struggle of Women in Achieving Development
20 years can seem like a very long time when you think of how much technology, globalization and development has evolved, even moreso when 20 years encompasses more than two-thirds of your personal lifetime. But after my first day at the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Beijing +20 surrounded by 400 over women’s human rights activists – that number gained both a smaller scale and a larger significance. Hearing the history of the ongoing ever-evolving fight for our rights by women who were present at the Fourth World Conference, women who have seen laws change and mentalities shift, women who have brought causes from the grassroots to the global platform, women who are still going and have no intentions of stopping – it was amazing to realize how much 20 years can contain, but also how short a time it is in the larger context of the women’s movement storied history.
Where will we be in the next 20 years? I couldn’t help but try to divine the future, trying to see if I would be in a room like this again, occupying a different position, speaking to this version of myself. The issues have evolved; inequality, oppression, injustice, violence, marginalization, and apathy are still monsters we have to fight. It’s humbling and very scary to join the march forward, but we step up, and step up, and step up.
My fellow Malaysian peers also wrote pieces for the newsletter. Liyana Dizzy wrote a short piece about her thoughts on equality as a Malaysian-Muslim feminist SOGIE ally, while Juana Jaafar wrote about the crucial importance of young women’s input, involvement, and consent in the post-2015 agenda.