Thursday, March 7th

The Salvation Army leading a fun tambourine dance!

The Salvation Army leading a fun tambourine dance!

"We Are Marching In the Light of God"

“We Are Marching In the Light of God”

Got up early again this morning to make it to the Worship Service prepared by the Salvation Army.  It was quite peppy :)  lots of music!

After worship I went to go get a quick breakfast with Courtney and then made it back in time for the Advocacy meeting.

Working on the draft document in the advocacy meeting.

Working on the draft document in the advocacy meeting.

Here we went through the draft document (the working document that each country adds or subtracts what they would like to see in the agreed conclusions).  Our job was to look at the document and see where different countries are agreeing with Ecumenical Women’s points and where they are differing.  It was interesting to have to think about all sorts of different things (why might certain countries be adding or subtracting or wording in different ways?).  I was able to join a small group who went to speak to the head negotiator for Canada at 1:00 p.m.  We were able to share the points that were important to our group and ask them to stand firm on issues that we believe in.  It was a very interesting experience, I enjoyed it :)

 

 

I also stopped by the Unicef gift shop and found an Alabaster Nativity!  I was excited because 1) I like Nativities and 2) It was made of Alabaster, which would be a great reminder of the Young Adult’s Worship Service that I was a part of on Monday morning that focused on the woman who annointed Jesus with ointment in an Alabaster jar.

My Alabaster Nativity

My Alabaster Nativity

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At 2:30 I went to a Parallel Event called “Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls in Afghanistan – 2014 and Beyond” put on by the Women’s UN Report Network.  The panel of speakers shared a variety of stories of girls and women in Afghanistan and we also got to see a few video interviews with girls who had experienced severe physical violence in their lives.  They spoke about the Taliban and their fear that things may change again after 2014.  It was a very interesting Parallel Event.

Wednesday, March 5th

I’m finally blogging about the actual day I am living…

This morning we got to sleep in a bit since we didn’t need to be at the CCUN chapel until 8am.  WAHOO!!

The Ecumenical Worship service led by the World Council of Churches

The Ecumenical Worship service led by the World Council of Churches

The service was led by the World Council of Churches and the World Federation of Christian Students.  It was a fun service full of dancing and singing – following the theme of the Phoenician Woman.

After worship Lydia and I walked to find the Swedish Mission because I needed to pick up a ticket to their Side Event.  We finally found it and went up to the 46th floor where we were actually able to pick up a ticket for Lydia as well!

photoun13At 10:30 a.m. I went to to a Parallel Event called “Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls by Ending Early Marriage” sponsored by World Vision and Girls Not Brides.  It was interesting to hear from an organization that I have worked with before on their work with young girls caught in early marriages.  It was also interesting to hear about the cultural and social structures that are keeping this system of child marriage from ending.  We learned that many (I can’t find my note with the exact amount, but I will let you know when I find it) young girls were married within 6 months of the Tsunami, and that a lot of child marriages happen in a very close time period to disasters and crisis because marriage is seen as a safety for the girls.  These organizations are working with communities to change the mindset about child marriage because it needs to come from within the community.  Some communities have signed agreements that they will not have child marriage in their community, which puts pressure on men to not marry young girls.

Lydia and I went to lunch at Olympia cafe and I got chicken teriyaki (I hope you are all appreciating my notes about when and what I ate….I just wanted to remember…thanks for your help…)

UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson

UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson

After a speedy lunch we went to a Side Event called “From Prevention to Response:  Mobilizing Men and Boys” put on by the Swedish Mission and Norden.  This event was the gender equality government agencies from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland (I was pretty excited about the last one since I’ve been there and have a special place in my heart for Iceland and Icelandic people).  The Deputy Seceratary General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson made the opening statements! (This was pretty exciting, although Courtney is getting angry that I keep happening to be at events with big names…)

Sweden focused on engaging more fathers to take parental leave because this increases engagement with their children as well as taking on household duties.  She also spoke about the need to promote non-violent masculinity and have treatment programs for perpetrators.

Finland talked about the need to change the idea of it being okay for boys to fight and be violent.  They have “The Boys House” which sends the message that boys have the right to change the stereotype.  The issue must matter to men.

Norway spoke about people thinking that they ARE gender equal, but they do still have their problems.  They focused on making men caregivers and changing the structure.  They also reminded us that boys can also be victims of the forced marriage and the involvement in honor killings.

Denmark focused on changing the attitude to say it is masculine to say no to violence to women.

Iceland spoke about rehabilitation programs for perpetrators.  There is a men’s group in the federation of feminists in Iceland.  And finally she focused on looking into the world of violent pornography.

photoun14At 2:30 p.m. we went to the Presbyterian Women’s Parallel Event: “From Hurt to Hope: Women of the Church Confronting Institutional Violence”.  The panelists shared personal and heard stories from within the United States.  One of the major themes that I pulled from this event was the economic inequality in service occupations such as hotels.  We learned that many hotels have cut back on housekeeping staff while giving the individuals more work each day.  Not only does this cause stress, but physical injury as well.

At 6:00 p.m. we had an Ecumenical Women’s Dinner, after which we headed back to the hotel to unwind and hangout.

Tuesday, March 5th

On Tuesday morning Ridgley, Courtney, and I had to get to the CCUN at 7:30 again because we were a part of the Presbyterian Women worship service.  The theme for the service was “The Woman Caught in Adultery”.

After worship I went to a Parallel Event called “Stop the Tide: Tackling Adolescent Dating Violence”.  The first speaker was Amy Rustan who works for the U.S. State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.  She spoke about the trafficking of young teens within the United States through the use of social media.  The next speaker was a young woman with World Girl Guides who spoke about using her experience with bullying to teach young girls about violence against women.  We did an interactive activity where we were asked to identify pictures as an image of a healthy relationship or an unhealthy relationship.  I had to leave early because I needed to meet my small group for lunch.

After lunch I attended a Side Event Called “UN Heads of Agencies On Eliminating and Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls” in the North Lawn Building of the UN.  I wasn’t quite sure what the event was going to be, but was excited to

UN Heads of Agencies Side Event

UN Heads of Agencies Side Event

see Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon at the front of the room!  Around him were the Director of UN Women, the Director of Unicef, The Director of UNESCO, and the Director of UNFPA.  It was a very interesting event – they spoke about what each of the agencies within the United Nations was doing to prevent and eliminate violence against women.  It was encouraging to hear of steps that are already in place in several of the UN agencies within their scope of work.

I will tell you more once I can find my notes on that…

Yep!  That's the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon!  I was excited...

Yep! That’s the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon! I was excited…

At 4:30 p.m. I went to a Parallel Event called “Prevention and Protection of Sexually Exploited Girls in Immigrant Communities in the U.S.” put on by ECPAT-USA.  This was a very interesting panel of speakers who spoke to us about several different aspects of violence against immigrant populations.  The first speaker worked for an organization that worked with unaccompanied children who are undergoing deportation proceedings.  Often these children have been brought across the border and are being held by immigration.  Because of their illegal status they are not appointed an attorney, so this organization works to help get attorneys for these children.  The second speaker works in Singapore to find and help foreign workers who are being forced to work and being sexually exploited.  Both of these women reminded us that women and girls often have a hard time asking for help because of fear of being sent home, which may be more dangerous for them.  The third speaker works with immigrant populations within New York City, women from Asia who have been trafficked.  She works with these women to help them learn skills, gain self esteem, and give them a role within society, and help them with any legal issues.  The final speaker works with the US Government in the area of trafficking.

After the 4:30 parallel event I came back to the PC(USA) office and wrote my weekend blogs and ordered dinner from Curry and Curry.  We had a great debrief meeting in Jackie’s room at 9pm and then we went to bed!  We were exhausted.  I wanted to include some pictures from what I did yesterday.

Monday, March 4th

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Monday we departed the hotel at 7:00 to make it to CCUN by 7:30 a.m.  The Young Women led worship for the Ecumenical Womens’ worship service and it went off without a hitch.  In fact, it was very meaningful and uplifting.  The theme of “Breaking the Jar” spoke to the idea of standing up for yourself and others as a woman even when you are with naysayers.

After worship I went to breakfast with Amanda, Lydia, and Sung Yeon at a yummy little cafe called Tudor Cafe.  One of the great things about being a part of the Young Women’s Leadership Development (YWLD) group is that we have such a great group to bounce things off of, debrief over breakfast with, and really discuss some of the things we have been learning and hearing at CSW.

My first Parallel event was “Profiles in Courage: Human Rights Defenders in the Struggle to End Violence Against Women” put on by the United Nations Watch and International Council for Jewish Women.  The panel of three women spoke about their personal experiences with violence.

- The first speaker, Hadeel Kouki, was a young Syrian woman who had been involved in the beginning of the revolution.  She was jailed and tortured two separate times, and sought political asylum outside of Syria.

- The second speaker was Roya Hakakian, an Iranian American journalist who spoke about her experiences with gender inequality in the Middle East.

- The third speaker was Dr. Qanta Ahmed, an Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University.  She told us of her experiences as a physician in Saudi Arabia, as witness to both violence and torture.  She told of personal experiences of gender inequality as a female doctor in Saudi Arabia, and she spoke about her belief as a devout Muslim and the ways that she has been angry and discouraged by fanatical Islamic factions who have twisted the meaning of the Quran.

The event was so eye opening and a great way to start my week.

In the afternoon I discovered that no one had signed up to use the secondary pass to attend the official CSW UN Meeting, so Sung Yeon and I signed up to go!  We got a bit lost finding the right room (the lawn building is not connected to the main building…who knew?) but we found where we were supposed to be and found a seat about half way back.

The chairwoman opened the floor up to member states to share what their countries were doing about violence against women in their countries:

- France spoke about the problem of criminalizing violence against women that can leave the woman with no funds to care for the children, and possibly no stable home.  France has been able to empower law enforcement to solve these issues.  They believe that sexual health and education is important and had questions about what other countries were doing regarding electronic bracelets for perpetrators.

- Portugal said that violence against women was a part of their annual campaign, particularly looking at destructive effects on children of violence against their mothers.  They are focusing on jobs and training actions and strengthening relationships with migrant communities.

- Turkey talked about the Istanbul convention and said that they have been able to provide services to women affected by violence all under one roof.  They stressed the importance of working with religious centers and having educational programs for men as well.  One of their struggles was that 71% of women in Anatolia who were polled believed that women should obey their husbands in all things without question.

- Finland stressed the importance of involving men and boys in the learning process in order to get at the root problems, particularly violent images.  They have a program called “The Boys House” that teaches young men about being men that doesn’t involve violence.

- China reminded everyone that they have 650 million women.  They mentioned that they are allowing civil NGOs and civil society to play a bigger part in helping to prevent and eliminate violence against women.

- The European Union was very succinct.  They said they have more laws now for violence against woman.  This issue is a human rights issue.  They have gender experts who act with NGOs and they believe that we need to support NGOs on a regional level as well.

- Belgium spoke about having a regional dialogue platform for players of different sectors involved with domestic abuse, to exchange good practices and implement changes.  They are able to have police, medical staff and others involved in identifying abuse work together and be trained on identifying.  72% of young teens admitted to being violent in their relationships.

- Switzerland talked about the need to attack the root causes – social, economic and cultural violence.  They stressed that economic autonomy is essential for balance.

- Norway spoke mainly about mobilizing men and boys in education.  They also stressed the importance of the inclusion of sexual rights in the final document.

Kazakhstan talked about the importance of motherhood, family, and children being protected.  September 2nd is the Day of the Family in Kazakhstan.  They have reduced the maternal mortality rates and have always respected women within the family and the society.  (The representative spoke to long and the chairwoman took off her headphones and moved on while she was still talking.)

- Solomon Islands said that 2 out of 3 women suffered from gender violence in their country.  They need help in focusing on climate change and the rising sea level because this causes disharmony within the community and family and is causing violence.

- Ghana spoke about reducing harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation.  There are laws but it is hard to prosecute because of the culture.  They are looking at alternate rites of passage and getting cooperation from traditional leaders.  They also have problems with sexting.

- Brazil has a violence hotline that gets 2000 calls a day.  They have an integrated assistance program for victims of violence and men are forced to pay all the costs to the state for the care of the victim.

- India has put in place new laws about domestic abuse and abuse within the work place.

- Bahrain mentioned that the king of Bahrain is also discussing this topic concurrently.  They put emphasis on violence against women being against Sharia.  Their concern is that some people believe the law against violence is personal and that the state shouldn’t try to intervene.  They have seen some opposition when the law was discussed.  They would like to start educating children about it so they can get at the root causes.

- Denmark reminded that we must involve men and boys.  They have hotlines and crisis centers there.  This is no longer a private matter but a public concern.

- Nigeria stressed the education of both boys and girls in the matter of violence against women and said that women must be economically empowered.

- Mauritania spoke of disseminating the text of the convention and put a stress on eliminating female genital mutilation.  They said that religious leaders were involved in reducing FGM by saying that it was not required by religious law.

- Slovenia said that preventing and eliminating violence against women was one of 6 priority areas set up for their national program.  They are going to set up a hotline.

- Lichtenstein talked about enhancing the role of women in mediation and mentioned that they would like to serve on CSW and UN women.

- Lao PDR stressed changing the mindset of people who are deep in the mentality of tolerance to the violence.  They want to address the mentality of the elderly who command respect because they need their support in changing the mentality of the younger generations.  (This representative also went too long and was cut off by the chair person).

- The State of Palestine was speaking for the very first time as a recognized voice in the United Nations!  It was exciting…everyone applauded!!  She stressed that women in Palestine have been fighting violence for decades from Israel as well as within their own homes.  Palestine is subject to Jordanian criminal code and they have asked for the Honour Crimes to be repealed in Jordan.

OKAY!  So this was a three hour meeting…I was only there for 2.25 hours – aren’t you glad I didn’t stay for the whole thing?

After that was over I went to get a quick bite to eat and the joined the Intergenerational Dialogue at the Church of the Covenant.  This was a really great experience.  We got to share with others within our own generation as well as several generations around ours.  We talked about things we had learned from our fore-mothers that we wanted to pass on as well as things we learned from our fore-mothers that we did not want to pass on.  We talked about ways we have experienced gender inequality as well.

On a personal note, when I was thinking about things I had learned from my fore-mothers I thought of several things my Grandma Wilcox had taught me – her love, faith, and strength as a woman who grew up in the depression was always so inspiring to me…and of course the reminder to always take time out to swing on the porch swing with people you care about.  After we left the Intergenerational Dialogue and were eating Thai Food back at the hotel I got a message from my dad letting me know that Grandma Wilcox had passed away.  This was not unexpected, in fact, I have been feeling pretty privileged today be acting as a woman delegate to CSW in remembrance and memory of such a strong and faithful woman as my grandma, Coralie Wilcox.  I think she would be proud.

Sunday, March 3rd

On Sunday we got up early to head down to The First Presbyterian Church of New York.  The church building was beautiful and the congregation was full of young families!  The sermon was so applicable to the theme of our week, the pastor speaking about the idea of “seeing others” and that Jesus “sees us” through all of the mess that we are.  And to top it all off – F. Murray Abraham (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000719/) was the Lay Reader!  It was great.

We went out to a burger place for lunch and then headed uptown to the National Council of Churches office to work with other young women who are a part of the Ecumenical Women.  Using the theme of The Woman Who Anoints Jesus in Bethany.  We did a contextual Bible study and came up with the title “Breaking the Jar” for the worship service we were supposed to lead on Monday morning.  We divided up tasks and the young women from PC(USA) were put in charge of the scripture reading.  We chose to read the text with a series of tableaus in the background.  It was a long evening of practice – but our hard work paid off and it looked great!

Sunday night we went to Ali Baba’s Turkish Restaurant near our hotel on 34th.  It was delicious!

Saturday, March 2nd

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So I have a lot to catch up on since I haven’t posted my blog all weekend!!! We were having a lot of internet issues at the hotel, so now I’m at the Presbyterian Office using the internet here :)

Therefore my titles are going to be boring….sorry….

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Ecumenical Women Orientation

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Ecumenical Women Orientation

The Ecumenical Women Orientation...sorry it's fuzzy.  I was trying to zoom in a bit.

The Ecumenical Women Orientation…sorry it’s fuzzy. I was trying to zoom in a bit.

On Saturday we got up early to head to the Ecumenical Women’s Orientation that started at 8:30 a.m. (yikes!)  We started off with yummy breakfast and worship.  We learned more about The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), found out about the UN Women and Ecumenical Women’s role in the CSW, and learned more about OUR role at CSW the next two weeks.  We broke into groups to discuss the Ecumenical Women’s recommendations to CSW – I chose to join the work shop dealing with the point about Education, specifically:

-          “Provide training to police, medical staff, teachers and school administrators and others who may encounter victims of violence to recognize that violence, provide education on local and national laws and make reporting of abuse obligatory.”

The work shop was very helpful in understanding what our role as advocates is this week.  We broke down the talking point and looked at the Zero Document (the first document that the member states look at when deciding what to add and subtract in the next two weeks).  We looked within the document for things that fit with our point, ways we could make our point stronger, and things that didn’t connect with our point.

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Deputy Director of UN Women

We also had the opportunity to hear from Lakshmi Puri (see picture to the left), the Deputy Director of UN Women.  She spoke to us about CSW and the involvement of UN Women within CSW.  She was so interesting to listen to – I really enjoyed it.

At the end of the day we walked to the Church Center at the United Nations (CCUN) for our final worship service.  The theme was “The Daughter of Jephthah”

After worship we had a light reception at the CCUN and then I went to dinner with Stephanie and Hannah at Sinigual (contemporary Mexican cuisine) – it was delicious.

Now…on to Sunday!

And They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.

Today was my first day at the Commission on the Status of Women!  Will took me out for crepes (YUM!) before he dropped me off at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. (yes, I was a bit early…but I was excited).  After checking in, I walked over to the United Nations with Hannah to pick up our Grounds Passes!  YIPPY!!  I got a little excited and took a picture.  Once I figure out how to post pictures on here I will show y’all.  It was pretty exciting.

At 3pm we met with the whole PC(USA) Delegation at Church of the Covenant in Midtown for an Orientation.  It was 5 hours long…just a taste of what our 10 hour orientation will be like tomorrow apparently….

We opened up with “And They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love”.  Some people don’t like that song…I do.  Especially in the context we are in this week:

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, (repeat) and we pray that all unity will one day be restored, and they’ll know we are Christians by our Love (repeat).

We will work with each other, we will work side by side (repeat) and we’ll guard each ones’ dignity and save each one’s pride, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love (repeat).

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand (repeat) and together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Sung by over 75 people…beautiful….

After that we got the scoop on all sorts of things like when we are supposed to be where, who we are supposed to meet, what we are supposed to be doing, etc!  It was a lot of information…most of which you really don’t need to know.  We also got to meet a lot of very interesting people from all over the United States.   As a grounds pass holder I found out how to use it, where to use it, and what it will get me in to.  We also went over the schedule of Side Events and Parallel Events that we can be a part of.

Our Young Women’s Leadership Development group met together tonight after our orientation to get to know each other better.  There are a lot of really great young women that I am excited to get to know over the course of this week.  And now we are back in our room, getting ready for bed.  We have to meet in the lobby at 7:50 to walk over to worship….too early…. See you tomorrow!

So Now What?

So with all of those statements, here is what the Ecumenical Women are asking for:

Realizing governments’ essential role in addressing the issues we have identified, we urge member states to:

- Partner with civil society in conducting awareness and educational campaigns about gender discrimination and gender based violence in all its forms.

- Recognize women’s contributions and promote equality for women as active and equal decision makers.

- Oppose all forms of gender based stereotyping, discrimination, oppression and violence.

- Eradicate cultural practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls.

- Reduce the gaps in political parity and representation and work towards great inclusion of women in decision making, leadership, and representation in governing structures.

- Create and enforce laws by which women are guaranteed equal pay for equal work.  

- Increase women’s and girls’ access to education, especially for rural and minority populations, so that women and girls might contribute their full potential and skills in their communities, have increased confidence, and be assisted to better face challenges arising from contact with male dominated enterprises.

- Provide training to police, medical staff, teachers and school administrators and others who may encounter victims of violence to recognize that violence, provide education on local and national laws and make reporting of abuse obligatory.  

 

- Increase funding for victim support programs that especially address the needs of rural and minority populations.

- Work towards education and access to full reproductive health provisions, including contraception, disease prevention, and family planning.

- Eliminate transportation constraints that prevent women in rural areas from accessing basic resources that would enable them to participate in local, regional and international economies.  

- Train law enforcement personnel regarding the prevalence and appropriate serious response to reports of domestic violence especially within indigenous populations, as well as minorities and the poor.

- Increase access to information, law enforcement and court systems, medicine, food, water, education and other services in rural and isolated areas.   

I am going to start packing tonight…we’ll see how this goes.  In related news, I made it into the local news :)  http://parsippany.patch.com/articles/un-conference-on-women-s-issues-to-include-local-woman

 

Rural and Minority Women

Here is the third Statement.  Please let me know your thoughts.

We must pay particular attention to the needs of rural and minority populations and improve their access to resources and services.

- Rural and minority populations within states often experience particular difficulties in addressing violence due to their geographical and relational isolation from positions and centers of power.  This affects their ability to access resources and services such as education and information.

- The needs of rural and minority populations are often forgotten or ignored by those in power, and in worst case scenarios the powerful exploit members of rural and minority populations.  Minority and geographically remote populations are often removed from centers where resources and services are found, such as schools, community centers, shelters, clinics/hospitals, police departments, courts and detention centers.  Such isolation may result in alienation and a willingness to turn to violence.  it may also leave individuals feeling they will not be caught and thus encourage lawlessness.

- Cultural stereotypes may associate certain populations with violence, to the extent that it is considered normal behavior and thus no intervention is made.  Issues of legal jurisdiction as in the case of some indigenous groups, may prevent law enforcement from being able to prosecute perpetrators.

- All people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or location within a state, have the right to access basic resources and services, such as nutritious food, water, education, transportation, medical care and information.  Creating and supporting programs that support these rights, especially for rural and minority women and girls, will strengthen communities and promote the well being of all people.  

I am leaning towards choosing the last point in this statement as the one I will be advocating for.  Would love to hear your thoughts.  

Education against Violence

Alright folks…on to the next statement:

Education is a vital part of the change process, especially societal change.  Education must incorporate men and boys alongside women and girls.  

- Education for all members of society is fundamental in preventing violence.  This includes equal access to education for girls and boys, women and men, and socialization through education about appropriate behavior between females and males.  

- While education is considered a basic human right, reports indicate that high rates of illiteracy persist, especially among rural women and girls.  Lack of access to education hinders the ability of women and girls to engage in development and income-generating activities for their families and is a form of violence against women and girls. 

- Education is a key factor for learning about the human rights of each individual – rights which call for respect, equal treatment and dignity.  It is important to educate women on their rights, so that they may be empowered to speak out for themselves.  We especially recognize that violence against women and girls is often considered a “women’s issue”, but is in fact a societal issue.  In order to tackle the roots of gender based violence, all sectors of society must work together.  

I’ll head into the city on Friday the 1st – starting to look at what to pack – and starting to get excited!