Travelling to New York and sharing a room with three fiercely independent, intelligent and inspiring women to be part of the CSW62 (the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women) was truly an incredible journey, but to be filming We Are Warriors with Alison Davie in this city was truly a surreal experience.
We were up each night talking into the early hours of the morning, such was the experience we had. Thanks to AMP Dynamic for making it happen.
We were joined by Chithra, who filmed us in New York, and we were thankful to those who donated on Givealittle to make it happen just days before we left. We collected our passes and filmed our walk to the UN, and were asked by locals 'were we movie stars?' much to our amusement.
The UN was like an art museum, so inspiring and breathtaking it was, and the women who came there from around the world even more so. There was a moment when I was in the meditation room that was a monument for all those who had died for peace that I felt this incredible connection to all those in history around the world who risked their lives for freedom. Very beautiful and inspiring.
The day before we were meant to present a snow storm hit, and I was reminded how in previous years CSW had been shut down, and we waited with trepidation overnight to see if our event was cancelled. Through the snow storm, and the worst traffic jam in NY City, we managed to make it to our event, and appreciated all those who braved the freezing temperatures to join us.
If anything, I felt after two years' planning that my speech just flew by in a haze, and it wasn't until I sat down and my colleague spoke that the enormity of what we were doing truly hit me. Standing up as our 'elder', Teri Stout told us of her decision to tell her story at 60 years old. Her incredible story literally moved the room to tears, and we were all inspired by the amazing strength and courage of this woman.
If anything that was what CSW62 was about, the amazing power of women. I found that so many were doing inspiring projects in their own countries, but coming together to support one another and fight for collective change in New York.
I was humbled by the women I met from Nepal, Nigeria and Canada and beyond, but also youth and elders from New Zealand, who were so supportive and inspiring, especially Beverley Turner, from Pacific Women's Watch, and Christine Berridge from BPW Doubtless Bay.
A special thank you to Caroline Herewini, from Maori Women's Refuge, who, through fate, we met by sitting next to her at the airport, and we felt a connection of being watched over through the conference.
The waiata she led at the end of our presentation was truly humbling, and I felt the importance of me standing there for survivors and victims of sexual abuse in our community.
No matter what, I was where I was meant to be. I was the warrior I was meant to be.
For me this trip was but a taste of what CSW can offer, and I wish I could have seen more and stayed longer. I can see the great importance of this pilgrimage for those who make the trip each year, and I hope to inspire others in my community to attend, and return myself to replenish from this cup of human spirit and strength.
We came back weary but truly changed by the awesome power of women, and ready to continue the fight for change in our community. The idea has been growing for some time, but the trip to CSW has inspired us to form a charity to continue to empower the trauma survivors in our town, fight the offenders and those who seek to exploit victims in our community.
Watch this space.