Chilliwack slam poet heads to the UN in the New Year

Gautham Krishnaraj is gearing up to fly to NYC in March to participate in the 59th session of UN Commission on the Status of Women

Gautham Krishnaraj



Gautham Krishnaraj of Chilliwack likes to take on global topics with the creative twist of the spoken word.

The student and slam poet has been advocating for international issues like girls’ education, and has presented at local schools like G.W. Graham and Sardis secondary.

The 20-year-old is the co-founder of Raise Your Voice, and he’s gearing up to participate in the 59th session of United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), from March 9-20, 2015 in New York City.

“As a young male, advocating for gender equality and girls’ education is something I find to be very important, and I am anxious to meet with the key world stakeholders and partake in valuable discussions,” Krishnaraj told The Progress.

The enthusiastic, bilingual student is in 3rd year microbiology and immunology at McGill University in Montreal, and lives on Promontory Heights in Chilliwack.

“He’s been actively involved is serving his community since he was in Grade 6,” said his mom, Thilaka Krishnaraj.

He doesn’t sit around and wait for other people to ask him to join an effort, she explains. He forges ahead and does it on his own.

“To me, he’s a leader,” she said.

He is excited to see what will happen at the UN session he’s preparing for in the new year. It’s especially timely because it’s been 20 years since the adoption of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. And 2015 is all about implementing the lofty goals they drafted in Beijing.

“I’m glad to see the focus this year is in on tangible action,” he said. “People always say the UN is only about talk, but this is about action.

“That is very important and Raise Your Voice was founded with this in mind.”

He once spoke before a crowd of 20,000 at the Me to We event in Vancouver in 2011, as part of Tedx Victoria, so it won’t be the first time he discusses the power that young people have to change the world.

Krishnaraj launched the non-profit, Raise Your Voice, two years ago, with his friend, Nik Carverhill, when they were at Pearson College UWC on Vancouver Island. The volunteer-based RYV aims to “empower youth with debate, spoken word poetry, and education.”

They partner with schools and communities to provide outreach to the most vulnerable youth with messages of empowerment. They fund girls’ education scholarships and are helping three students currently studying in Malawi.

“Raise Your Voice is about getting marginalized youth involved in the public discourse,” he said.

The UN session he’ll be participating in March will also address “opportunities for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women” and will look at the post-2015 development agenda.

It is also timely in the context of HeForShe, the solidarity movement for gender equality, he explained, which features men standing up for women’s rights worldwide.

The HeForShe.org has an online “commitment” which asks signatories to agree that: “Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that requires my participation. I commit to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls.”

In March, he’ll attend the 59th session of the CSW, with the Canadian permanent mission, representing the International Relations Student Association at McGill (IRSAM).

Krishnaraj will also be representing his home community and his non-profit group, Raise Your Voice, which advocates and sponsors girls’ education around the world.

“The themes will includes youth engagement and women in diplomacy,” he said. “It’s a unique space that we will fill at the UN.”

He wants to represent not only his own views when he gets to New York, but those from youth in his communities of Chilliwack and Montreal as well. So he’s asking people to email him directly with any ideas and comments to gauthamkrishnaraj@hotmail.ca.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

Just Posted

VIDEO: Cultivate Wellness Retreat in Chilliwack raises $15,000 for two women’s charities

Proceeds from the third annual event go to Wilma’s Transition House and B.C. Women’s Health Foundation

Missing Chilliwack woman may have headed to Vancouver

Dawn Lorraine Smith, 33, last in contact with a family member on June 15

Banner year for Chilliwack’s Education Centre comes to a close

Graduating Class of 2019 celebrated as alternate ed school looks back on successes

Traffic changes now in effect at Lickman Road interchange

Traffic signal at eastbound off-ramp was removed on June 24, taking away the left turn option

UPDATE: ‘Spontaneous combustion’ likely cause of fire at mushroom composting facility on Lougheed Highway

First responders were at the blaze near the Skawahlook First Nation Tuesday

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Plane veers off runway, into ditch at Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police are on scene

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Most Read