This morning the Asia Pacific Women;s Watch presented “Raising a Voice: Young Women from Asia Pacific Women Speak Out.” This being my first presentation at CSW, I was understandably nervous. My presentation was about, “The Same Sex Marriage Debate in Australia.” I detailed the current legal situation for same sex couples in Australia, then outlined the gaps that still remain. I then spoke of some recent movements and then detailed the current political situation including the introduction of two separate private members bills to the Federal Parliament. While I was very nervous, I think I managed to speak clearly and concisely, most importantly I managed to stay within the seven minute time limit! The other speakers in the forum however where incredible. Shabina Khan spoke about sexuality in Fiji and the need for increased education about sexuality and sexual rights. Chigusa Sekiguchi, spoke about the current situation for same sex couples in Japan.

Gizela de Carvalho spoke about the young women in East Timor and the need for more sexual and reproductive health education and Neeha Sood spoke about sexual education in rural India.

Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala’s speech however, was particularly touching. She spoke of the current situation in Sri Lanka for same sex couples and it was quite upsetting. She spoke of a number of double suicides from young girls who did not believe that their families and society could accept their relationship. However, as upsetting as the situation described was, it is encouraging to know that there are women out there as brave as Jayanthi who are willing to speak out and stand up and attempt to make a difference for the lives of all these young women. I am really in awe of the courage she, and other women who come from similar circumstances display.

Hearing the voices of all these young women was truly inspiring and is an experience that I will remember and will continue to motivate me into the future.

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