Maisy Bentley is currently planning her trip to New York in March to bring the voices of young Kiwi women to the United Nations 63rd session of the commission on the status of women. This is a pretty special opportunity. She is YWCA Aotearoa's only delegate but will be connected to women from delegations all around the world from other YWCAs and therefore able to learn about women's advocacy and not for profits all around the world. She will bring this knowledge to enrich her work here in New Zealand and particularly to Porirua / Wellington.

Maisy is a full-time university student at Victoria University, studying law, international development and Maori studies. She also works on international policy as an intern at the Ministry for Women. She works with the New Zealand charity ‘Prepair’ to partner with one of New Zealand's largest fashion outlets ‘Glassons’ to create a national campaign about healthy relationships. Some of her history and background is set out below and if you want even more information, you can find it here.

She volunteers for United Nations Youth to ensure that young people get a civics education, and is the only Commonwealth Correspondent for the Pacific, documenting the current issues relevant to young people.

Maisy has also started not for profits that ensure all young people have access to resources that support their wellbeing and to ensure young children are fed.

In addition, she makes time to mentor other young women, is a positive influence online, delivers Ted talks, sits on panels at women's leadership events and conferences across the country to advocate for the voices and stories of young women in New Zealand.

Maisy says, 'I want to make sure that the concerns and hopes of young New Zealand women are heard at the commission. Additionally, the commission is an amazing opportunity to connect with those undertaking similar advocacy at both a global and national level in their own countries and to gain a significant amount of condensed learning on these issues but also their solutions that can enrich my work and community when I return to New Zealand'.

Maisy first connected with The Rotary Club of Plimmerton in 2016 when she and Hannah Creary talked to members of the club about working to bring science education to low decile schools. It was obvious that she was climbing the ladder to success in many ways. Later that year, she spoke at a club meeting about her trip to the United Nations International Youth Assembly on the Global Development Tour. In the same year she participated in the Club's Secondary Schools Speech competition and in 2018 she spoke at the Club's Suffrage Commemoration event with Jan Logie, Judith Collins and Rosetta Lopi.

Because of the costs involved, Maisy will only be attending the first week of the United Nations 63rd session. This is the full programme of work. This includes high-level dialogue between ministers about the priority theme. The theme is social protection systems, which is very large and complex but relates to things like legislation, the welfare system, pension systems, public health care, transport etc.

During Maisy's internship at the Ministry for Women, she helped prepare for this event and undertook 10,000 words of research on the theme across key countries. Interactive dialogue will take place, where member states and NGO representatives can share their country's perspective on the themes/topics, expert panels on the priority theme which will give me great insight and experience learnings to bring back. The session also results in agreed conclusions regarding the status of women around the world and action points relating to the theme, which Maisy believes she will be able to contribute to. Beyond this there are parallel events hosted by UNANZ and the Human Rights Commission that involve panels and speakers for those around the world to attend and get a taste of the status of women in New Zealand. Maisy will be attending some of these. She is not yet scheduled to speak at any but her supporters in New Zealand are aiming to try and arrange that this will happen - but she will have to wait and see.

At the moment, Maisy has set up a givealittle page. She doesn't yet have a set dollar amount that she needs to raise. The cost of the overall trip is about $5,000. She is going with the YWCA Aotearoa and they have been very generous in supporting her with $3,000. However, YWCA is a not-for-profit organisation and this is all their budget allows. Maisy has raised a few hundred dollars from the give a little page and is supported by her family. She has also saved her wages all year (but as a full-time student that doesn’t amount to much, she says). She feels that if she could raise $1,000 or more to cover the cost of accommodation and on the ground costs that would be a huge relief.

What could you do to support this inspiring young woman?

A woman to watch

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