Sunday, April 17, 2011
Maintaining the link between local and global
It's hard to believe that nearly two months have passed since the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. I have thought about CSW frequently as I have prepared for upcoming presentations to the North Carolina community, which will focus on the insights I gained from convening with worldwide activists at the global level and through my attendance at multiple sessions regarding sexual and reproductive health. I am looking forward to sharing these findings with North Carolinians and emphasizing how important it is that student fellowship programs exist to support young women and men's attendance at such gatherings.
As I have mentioned before, when you're at CSW, the energy and motivation of the thousands of people gathered is palpable not only in daily sessions, but all over the city in the restaurants, shops, and sidewalks where attendees frequent. While I still feel that excitement and passion at an individual level through my community and academic work that is based in feminist thought and practice, I find it challenging to link my daily activities to happenings at the U.N. two months later. Maintaining the connection between local and global struggles is essential, but difficult in daily life, especially when most people are unaware of international meetings and documents like CSW and CEDAW. On the local level, there are few spaces in which local and global feminist and anti-racist activism may be discussed, analyzed, linked, and critiqued, which is why I believe it is challenging to consistently link local and global struggles.
This brings me to the question: What significance do bodies like the U.N. play in the daily lives of NGOs and activists who are providing the supervision and resources to address people's marginalization? I believe that organizations like WomenNC exist to make the linkage between local organizations and global human rights bodies constantly discernible and present, but it is still tough to remember the importance of international human rights bodies when you are working to address people's concerns on a daily basis. Because CSW only lasts for two weeks, how can those who attend in person or virtually maintain the excitement, enthusiasm, and connections once they return to their daily work and demands? What role does the U.N. play in the lives of grassroots activists and NGOs prior to and following international conferences and meetings? I don't have the answers to these questions, but have been pondering them more recently and will continue to think about them as I finish up my semester and study human rights in a different context abroad this summer.