Last year, in March 2019, Gwen Madiba was making her way to the UN for the CSW63 where she was in charge of setting high level meetings between the Head of the organization for which she worked and the Executive Director of UN Women and other High level officials which include but are not limited to the Minister of Status of women Canada and France. To her surprise, days before the trip, she was informed that there was no longer enough funds to include her in the trip and that they needed to find an alternative solution. Through this 'alternative' solution, Ms.Madiba took an 11 hour bus to New York while her non-black colleagues were all granted a one hour flight to New York; an experience that she swore she will never allow another black woman to live. This experience pushed her to reflect on her journey within that organization and fueled her goal to ensure that black women, men, boys, girls and gender diverse folks have access to equal opportunities and are simply treated equally and with decency. She made herself the promise that the following year, for the CSW64, she will be heading to the United Nations with young black women interested in International Affairs and Women's rights. She worked tirelessly for months to build partnerships and obtain sponsorships to make this possible. Finally, through a sponsorship of the DESJARDINS GROUP and a partnership with Vision Gram International, an NGO for which she has been an Ambassador for over 10 years now, she was able to register 6 young black women to attend the CSW64 as official delegates. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CSW64 was cancelled.

"Within a few hours of the cancellation of the 64th session of the UN

Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW), independent Senator Marilou McPhedran (Manitoba), her staff, and her youth advisory – called the Canadian Council of Young Feminists – suggested a Youth Forum at the Senate as an alternative for young leaders who could re-route their travel to New York, to arrive in Ottawa instead.

On Monday, March 9th, more than forty mostly self-funded youth delegates arrived at the Senate for this “policy pop-up” to engage in meaningful dialogue with senators, Cabinet ministers and civil society leaders about women’s rights and international instruments such as the “Beijing Platform for Action”, and to strategize on further Canadian youth opportunities in multilateral spaces, such as the “Generation Equality” conference in Paris, France set for July of this year."

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