St Albans activist invited to UN gender equality commission

PUBLISHED: 16:30 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:30 08 April 2019

Syeda Momotaz Rahim with the Countess of Wessex at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz Rahim

Syeda Momotaz Rahim with the Countess of Wessex at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz Rahim

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A St Albans activist spoke about fuel and period poverty at an UN Commission in New York.

Syeda Momotaz Rahim with signs relating to her fuel and period poverty campaign at the Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz RahimSyeda Momotaz Rahim with signs relating to her fuel and period poverty campaign at the Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz Rahim

Syeda Momotaz Rahim attended the 63rd meeting of a global intergovernmental body set up by the UN Economic and Social Council to promote gender equality, called the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

She is the director of the Hertfordshire All Women’s Trust, which is based in St Albans.

More than 100 representatives from the UK attended the commission, including Syeda, along with delegates from UN member states.

Syeda said: “In my day job as a specialist caseworker, working for a charity, I raised the issue that women and young girls, due to welfare reform and low income, face lack of sanitary care. Often the only way for them to access free sanitary care is from a foodbank.

Syeda Momotaz Rahim speaking at St Albans clock towerSyeda Momotaz Rahim speaking at St Albans clock tower

“Poverty in this area of need will vary from region to region in the UK, but period poverty is a national issue, especially school girls missing out on school, and women, due to welfare benefit cuts, sanctions, waiting for their welfare benefit cases to be heard at tribunals, face the crisis.”

She said she raised the matter with the UK government’s representative at CSW.

Adding: “I also raised the issue and spoke on fuel poverty again. Middle income families may be just about managing with high fuel, gas and electricity prices.

“The worst off in our society are the poor, on low income, on welfare benefits, disabled and the sick, and particularly those families again affected by welfare benefit sanctions who long await tribunal cases to make a decision on their claims.

Syeda Momotaz Rahim with the Countess of Wessex at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz RahimSyeda Momotaz Rahim with the Countess of Wessex at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women. Picture: Syeda Momotaz Rahim

“As a caseworker, a significant number of families, particularly women, in lone households, disabled and with long term health conditions faced living in the cold. Often not having enough to top up their gas or electric meters.”

The Hertfordshire All Women’s Trust specialise in gender equality work at strategic and grassroots level.

Syeda is also a member of the St Albans Women’s Interfaith Group and has held vigils to remember the victims of terrorist attacks by St Albans Clock Tower. The CSW took place from March 11 to 22. It works to promote women’s rights, documents women’s lives around the world, and shapes global standards on gender equality and empowerment.

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