Monday, March 9, 2015
Justine: New York Day 3
I’m sure by now readers are tired of me starting a blog post with “there are no words” and “wow!” but after completing my third day here in New York, I’m still grasping to find the right phrases and sentences to describe how incredible everything is.
Today was the first day of CSW, and to kick everything off, Beth brought all of us Fellows together to an opening 8:30 am session on NGO participation in CSW. It was definitely informative, and nice to begin the day with all of my peers on this trip.
After stopping in the UN delegate dining hall for a quick add-on to breakfast, Dana, Mina, and I slipped into the ECOSOC meeting room for a session on comprehensive sexual education, hosted by France. From the moment the doors opened and I saw the rows and rows of chairs with earpieces and microphones before the beautiful tapestry at the end of the room, I was absolutely floating. Getting to be a part of these sessions within the United Nations building itself is truly an honor, and walking the same route diplomats, dignitaries, and officials cross daily is quite humbling.
The sexual education session was wonderful in the sense that many of the discussion topics and statistics shared about how a comprehensive sexual education affects teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection rates, and HIV transmission made it clear that comprehensive curriculums are the only way forward. France’s model was especially promising—the panel noted that France currently operates an official website for youth to be able to access information about their sexual health, which I found to be particularly important.
The second session I attended today was about reproductive and mental health for women in humanitarian crises—with a specific focus on Haiti and Syria. Both panelists featured were absolutely incredible, and well versed on their topics. In particular, I was blown away by the discussion about Syria, given by a woman recently named by Huffington Post as on the of Top 10 Muslims Saving Lives. A native of Syria herself, she had dedicated her personal and professional career to bringing Syrians out of conflict, particularly Syrian women. It was refreshing to hear about what can be done on by NGOs to help aid those in the Syrian conflict, which, from an American perspective, often seems distant and entirely unsolvable. She stressed the importance of moving beyond immediate humanitarian aid, and shifting toward self-empowerment of the Syrian people within their own borders. Long-term solutions are needed, not just immediate dumping of money with little overall aim.
On the whole, I am still reeling from the events I’ve attended today, and I’m incredibly eager to see what the rest of the week holds. If today is any indication, I will continue to be blown away!’
Until next time,