Photo: Majida Kassem (fourth from left) and Meg Yates (farthest to the right) attending CSW68.

Advocating for change: Insights from Global Voices Scholars

9 April 2024
Advancing gender inequality on the global stage
We recently caught up with the 2023 Global Voices scholarship recipients, Majida Kassem and Meg Yates who attended the 68th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), the United Nations largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Majida Kassem, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (International and Global Studies) student and Meg Yates, Master of Economics student reflect on representing Australia at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. The experience enabled both students to participate in discussions on pressing global issues such as gender equality, human rights, and conflict resolution, providing real-world insights that complemented their academic learning. The Global Voices Scholarship is fully funded by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, providing a platform for young people to engage with policy makers and contribute their perspectives to global issues.  

Highlights from CSW68 attendance

Photo: Majida at the CSW68 in New York.

Majida Kassem, a recipient of Global Voices scholarship and a current student studying Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (International and Global Studies) attending CSW68.

Majida: “Amidst the diverse topics discussed, some of the main themes that resonated deeply with me included the persistent systemic barriers faced by women and girls worldwide. From access to information and land rights to combating regressive attitudes across generations, these discussions illuminated the urgent need for comprehensive, holistic approaches to address the intersectional nature of gender inequality”.

Meg: "The opportunity to attend bilateral meetings with senior government officials, Ministers, CEOs of NGOs and the Secretary for UN Youth Affairs in Canberra and New York was a highlight.  These meetings were really uplifting because we felt our voices and perspectives were taken seriously. We received valuable advice not only on our policy areas but also on professional development and how to effectively advocate for change”. 

Key learnings

Meg at CSW6 in New York

Meg Yates, a recipient of Global Voices scholarship and a current student studying Master of Economics attending CSW68.

Meg: "A key learning was in the power of young people to advocate for change, and more importantly to have platforms that allow them to be heard, which is central to the Global Voices mission".

“I took a lot out of the discussion with the UN Secretary for Youth Affairs, who asked us about young people’s trust in government institutions, including the UN. We had a really candid conversation about the need for government institutions to foster trust among youth. This is so important to ensure youth feel valued, heard and motivated to engage in policy advocacy. Opportunities like the Global Voices program are so important for providing youth with a platform within these institutions to contribute their perspectives and ideas, fostering a more inclusive and effective approach to addressing issues that matter to youth”. 

Real-world applications of classroom learning

Majida: "Witnessing firsthand the complexities and nuances of international relations and diplomacy at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City allowed for a deeper understanding of the practical applications of theories and concepts learned in the classroom". 

“Interacting with experts and activists from diverse backgrounds expanded my perspectives and challenged my preconceptions, fostering critical thinking and analytical skills crucial for my field of study” . 

The scholarship experience not only enhanced my academic knowledge but also fuelled my passion for effecting positive change on a global scale, motivating me to further pursue opportunities for advocacy and engagement in international affairs.
Majida Kaseem, Student, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (International and Global Studies)

Meg: "This opportunity has not only helped my current study within the Master of Economics, but my current role working for the NSW Government as an Economist. I have been able to share the valuable learnings from the experience with my colleagues and peers to inform policy development”. 

Top tips for future applicants

Majida shares her top tips on the Global Voices scholarship applications and encourages other students to take advantage of the opportunity.

Photo: Majida and Meg at the CSW68 in New York.

Image: Majida Kassem (fourth from left) and Meg Yates (farthest to the right) attending CSW68.

“The application process for the Global Voices Scholarship involves writing a policy proposal. Try not to get overwhelmed by the multiplicity of global issues. Select an issue that resonates deeply with you and channel your efforts towards formulating a specific and targeted policy solution, rather than attempting to address every aspect of the problem”. 

“The Global Voices program takes a very holistic approach, aiming to enhance your skills in research, policy writing, critical thinking, as well as to boost your confidence to network and engage in meaningful discussions with various leaders and decision-makers".

"Don't let your doubts about your experience level hold you back from applying. When initially applying for this program as a first-year student, I questioned my suitability for this program. However I soon realised that this opportunity is about embracing growth and learning. Your individual insights and perspectives, regardless of your background, have the potential to enrich and enhance every conversation”.  

Global Voices scholarship opportunities

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences continues to support and fund the Global Voices Scholarships in 2024, providing opportunities for students in making meaningful change in global issues. 

To stay informed about future applications including the attendance of  the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings in October 2024, complete our Expression of Interest form.

Photos supplied by Majida Kassem and Meg Yates.

Strategic Partnerships and Engagement

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Brennan MacCallum Building (A18), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney

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