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26 Apr 2019


From Youth Collective to the UN: Youth advocate attends international conference in New York and shares fresh insights on human rights


SSI youth advocate and delegate Rooan Al Kalmashi at the CSW63 at UN Headquarters in New York.

As an SSI Youth Collective Steering Committee member, Ms Al Kalmashi’s vision is to encourage active citizenship and to give a voice to youth from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Ms Al Kalmashi completed her HSC at Liverpool Girls High School, graduating with distinction in academic subjects and leadership. Her deep commitment to social justice is evident in her longstanding involvement in advocacy initiatives, including ArtCrew and Yhunger.

She is now undertaking her undergraduate degree in law and international studies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and aspires to continue her advocacy work within the multicultural sector.

Ms Al Kalmashi reflected on her CSW63 experience as being both challenging and rewarding.

“Being in the presence of leaders that are powerhouses across a range of government, CSO and NGO sectors is exciting and empowering,” she said.

“It was incredible to put my degree and experience into action, and I am so excited to share my experiences and learnings with my community back here in Australia.”

Settlement Services Manager and former convenor of the SSI Youth Collective Dor Akech Achiek said that conferences like the CSW63 deeply connected with the vision of the Youth Collective initiative, which aims to empower multicultural youth to take on leadership roles and become a voice for other young people.

“Today’s young women are tomorrow’s leaders, which is why it’s critical for organisations like SSI to give them opportunities to foster their abilities, leadership and make contacts that will assist them in their future careers,” he said.

“The participation of young women also ensures that the perspectives and voices of young people are not only included but shape and set global gender equality standards.”

Ms Al Kalmashi is a firm believer in information and ideas exchange across local, national and international communities, especially for youth and feminist groups.

“The cultivation of safe spaces where young people can develop a voice and foundation for their rights is so important,” she said.

“The reclaiming of feminised spaces to shape discussions, monitor and review policies is necessary.”

Ms Al Kalmashi said conferences were spaces where the power of language was heavily present, and the use of words embodied attitudes towards certain groups.

“The way we talk of immigrants, refugees, women, queer, indigenous, and those with a disability — the kinds of words we use — indicates our attitudes towards them,” she said.

“Language is incredibly powerful, and it is here that the personal, is political.”

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