ACS will be represented at the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) as Immediate Past Chair of the Branch Executive Committee, Jo Stewart-Rattray, joins the Australian delegation.

Stewart-Rattray has been selected to join the official party travelling to New York to provide insight and expertise into how technology can empower rural women around the world.

Speaking to Information Age, she explained that being given the opportunity to represent Australia at the United Nations is quite literally a lifetime dream come true.

“When I was a seven-year-old living in the country, I was a big Audrey Hepburn fan,” she said. “I saw her movies and she was working at the UN and I though ‘I want to do that.’”

“As time went on, I recognised her work as a UN goodwill ambassador as a way to make a difference.

“Of course, that’s a long way from the Australian heartland, so I never really thought it would happen, so this seriously is a dream come true.”

Stewart-Rattray joins the delegation of eight as one of two non-government delegates – Australia is one of the only member states that allows non-government delegates to participate in the formalities.

Established in 1946, the CSW is an annual two-week session where participating parties can “agree on further actions to accelerate progress and promote women’s enjoyment of their rights in political, economic and social fields,” its website states.

This year, representatives from 193 UN member states, civil society organisations and UN entities will meet at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss the priority theme of “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

Stewart-Rattray will use her vast experience in the ICT industry to provide insight into how technology can impact and empower rural women.

“We’re talking about all 193 member states, not just Australia and the First World,” she said.

“Technology allows opportunities in business, it allows opportunities in studies, it also allows the ability of women to remain safe if they have access to a mobile phone, for instance.”

In her 25 years of working in the Australian ICT industry, Stewart-Rattray has built significant connections amongst other women in technology.

It was this network that landed her the opportunity to join the upcoming delegation.

“I was hosting a lunch at a conference for women in the tech industry, and a woman heard me speak and said, ‘I have an opportunity that you should throw your hat in the ring for,’” she said.

“By the time I had gotten back to Adelaide she had sent me the link and I had just four days to put something together, and I worked with some colleagues and we put something together and put it in the mix.

“So without that level of connectivity between women and the women in tech workforce I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”

Leading the delegation will be Minister for Women, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer, who spoke of the value Stewart-Rattray, and the other non-government delegate Dr Pat Hamilton, will bring to her team.

“With expertise and depth of experience in Australia’s rural and IT sectors respectively I am confident that Dr Hamilton and Ms Stewart-Rattray are extremely well placed to make a valuable contribution to the CSW62 themes,” the Minister said in a statement.