Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sunday, Day 0 (Part One)

NGO (Non-governmental organization) CSW (Comission on the Status of Women) Consultation Day
The first day of NGO activity started in a blur as we raced downstairs into our cabs and to the Salvation Army.  When we arrived, we received our packets and stepped into what must have once been a grand theater in NYC. We immediately reserved seats with our jackets and then dispersed to hand out fliers for our event on Thursday. It is important that we advertise as much as we can so that we can get a good turnout for our event.
Before long we are out of fliers and we nestle down into our seats and face the stage as people continue to flock into the main level (where we are) and in the balcony above and behind us. We have to defend our seats at this point because there are many people who want our (very good) seats so that they won’t have to sit upstairs (too bad for them – the early bird gets the worm! – or in this case the seats :D).
Soon enough the Chair of the 2012 NGO CSW, Soon-Young Yoon, greets everyone and expresses her gratitude for all of us being here. Her introduction to the event is very appealing and uplifting even though I can’t even image how much pressure she is under right now. (Also – a cool fact she shared with us is that her name means “Peace Everlasting” – I wish my name was that cool!)
She also reminded us that March 8th is International Women’s Day and to celebrate and raise awareness there will be a march through the community! (a march in March … hahaha… oh, come on, it is a little funny…)
Then she introduced our first speaker of the morning, former President Michelle Bachelet. I love this women and I have never even met her. I joke quite a lot about wanting to be the President of the US one day… and to a certain extent I am only jesting because I can only imagine the stress and price that running a country has on oneself, body and soul. And the fact that even after that she is now the ED of UN Women… WOW. That is all I can really think and say. I hope that I can be that great of a woman or a person in general.
I’m going to go on a slight tangent here before I go into Ms. Bachelet’s speech. I extremely dislike the use of “Madam” as they introduced her as “Madam Bachelet.” First, why doesn’t “Ms.” Carry the same weight as “Mr.” – instead we feel like we have to use “Madam” when the history of the French use of the word means “lady or mistress of the house?” (and alternatively is used for the title of a woman who owns a brothel?!?!?!?) For those of you who know me you will understand why I’m going on this tangent. I feel like language is so important and this is a prime example of oppression through language. “Ms.” should carry the same weight as “Mr.” and when I am President I will be called “Ms. President.”
Alright back to Ms. Bachelet…
In her address she talked about four main themes or main areas that still need an incredible amount of work for the advancement of women. The first area that she spoke on is “Political Participation.” This is a super important area for growth. Women are severely underrepresented in governments all over the world (and in the US and NC – see Anuja’s presentation for more information!). Ms. Bachelet also used this speech to highlight the work of UN Women in the past year. (For those of you who may not know – UN Women is only a year old – it was created out of combining 3 other UN committees for women with the hope of creating a more effective advocacy and intervention body for women’s issues). 25 countries have received aid from UN Women in the past year for advancing the political participation of women through the Gender Equality Fund.
The next area Ms. Bachelet discussed was “Economic Empowerment.” Mar talks some about this in her presentation but this is really an issue that crosses into all other women’s issues. We need to continue to improve laws and policies so that women are required to receive the same treatment, opportunities and pay as men in any workplace environment.
The third area that was highlighted was the need to end all forms of violence against women. Ms. Bachelet suggested this was first through more standardized direct services available to any women who needs them. Then also to the pursuit of justice against the perpetrators and the importance of having more women in legal systems all over the world.
  Women in Peace and Security was the fourth area that was discussed. Women are key to the peacebuilding and peacemaking processes and when they fail to be involved in an equitable way peace processes crumble and fail. Right now only 5% of a UN peacekeeping budget in dedicated to involving women. This is detrimental to the peace process itself.
Ms. Bachelet suggested the future of UN Women included a global working group, called the Civil Society Working Group, that would create the ability for NGO’s to work more easily with UN Women. We need to always be looking forward and creating solutions that are relevant and applicable on the ground to women in various areas.

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