What a day! I think one of the first things I’ve learned on this sunny, windy day was to celebrate being surprised. We are given a hefty pamphlet of NGO parallel events & governmental events that each has a short title and a sponsoring organization per event. I had carefully chosen out my events and panels with care, dissecting every word in the miniscule title that would lend evidence to whom I would hear and what I would learn. However, I was wonderfully surprised on all three NGO parallel events I attended today! The first was called “Exposing the Doctrine of Discovery: A Call for Healing and Hope” hosted by the Episcopal Church. The panel focused on a formal apology from the Episcopal Church to American Indians killed, mistreated, and displaced during Manifest Destiny. The Doctrine of Discovery was a “dogma that Christian Sovereignty could impose on Indigenous Peoples” that was revoked by the Episcopal Church in order to apologize for the genocide against American Indians. I was shocked by the five speakers who told about their history of abuse, and moved by their stories of healing through the church. We each received three grains of corn from the women as a symbolic gesture towards the essential life each seeds holds, and each seed represented the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” of Christianity. It was a poignant and beautiful way to intertwine faith traditions.
I then went to a panel hosted by PCI-Media Impact that utilized “educational-entertainment” soap operas in Bolivia, and closed with a final NGO parallel event on rural female empowerment in Gambia. Then came one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my life: entering the UN and sitting in on a high-level roundtable discussion! I heard government representatives speak about what their nations were doing to empower rural women from the following nations: Brazil, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Mongolia, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, Egypt, South Africa, Cuba, China, Mozambique, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and the European Union. WOW! Seeing the flags and then hearing the voices behind them was humbling and something I’ll never forget. I’ve been surprised by the incredible array of ages, nationalities, personalities and laughter, and I’m trying to take it all in. I am so joyful and grateful to be in the midst of CSW 56 right now.