Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Looking Ahead: Women in the Post-2015 Agenda

The Fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women presents the world with an opportunity; the chance to critically assess our collective successes and failures as they relate to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls. To me, the opportunity goes further. The mandate of the current MDGs expires in 2015 and, for better or for worse, academics, governments, and activists the world over are even now gathering around tables to answer one question: what comes next? 

Both in and outside of the classroom, this topic has great personal significance to me. I began "working with" the MDGs from a development perspective at the age of 16 when I traveled to Tanzania with World Vision Canada. It was the first time my eyes were opened to the immensity of need that exists in the world. I found the symbolic and institutional significance of the MDGs--a global rallying cry to eliminate inequalities and improve outcomes for humans the world over--inspiring. Despite the criticisms levied against the goals, there is no disputing that they represent humanity's greatest effort thus far to improve our lot.

Since my teenage years, I have grown no less optimistic but more critical. I recognize the limitations of the social justice paradigm of the MDGs and understand that, as a human rights advocate, I can accept little less than universality. However, we stand on the cusp of the development of a new global strategy--the Post-2015 Agenda--a new set of unifying principles from which to engage the underlying determinants of poverty, inclusive of those critical goals addressing women and girls. 

As CSW Fellows, we have the opportunity to not merely shout our hopes and desires from the ramparts, but to actually interface with our local communities, communicate their needs, and influence one of the most important human rights and development processes in contemporary history. On my end, I have begun exploring the underlying trends and recent successes in closing the gender gap in North Carolina. Has that manifested itself in practical ways for victims of domestic abuse? How best can we communicate what has worked and hasn't worked to the world at CSW come March? 

Let us raise our hearts, voices, and minds and use this privilege for good. 

Until next time, 

Max Seunik 

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