Thursday, March 12, 2015

New York Day 5: Dana

Today was the big day! Our presentations. We spent the morning taking pictures in front of the United Nations and doing last minute practice run-throughs of our presentations. And then 2:30 arrived. People slowly began trickling into our room and I was happily surprised by the number of people that were there - not a single seat was left. Jane introduced the fellowship and then suddenly it was my turn to get up and present everything I had been working on for the last five months. I was definitely nervous, and I felt myself shake at times, but I felt so confident about my message. I knew what I wanted to get across and I delivered it.

I think all of us fellows did a great job. Everyone delivered the best presentations they ever had. Allison literally brought a woman to tears. It was incredible. After we all presented a bunch of people then came up to talk to all of us about our presentations. I ended up talking to 3 high school girls, one of whom was from my home town which was quite the coincidence. The other two were from Georgia and had had abstinence-based sex ed in their Catholic school, and wanted to tell me that their experience with it had actually been positive. It was wonderful to hear that their experience was positive, but I did talk to them about how abstinence ed on the whole just really doesn't work, and we can't just leave it to chance and hope that someone teaches the sex ed in a correct way - we need policies in place that standardize it for all students.

In addition to our presentations today, we also went to an event on women in the Arab world that had to be one of the most moving moments of my life. One of the panelists talked about her time in Iran. She had been arrested at age 18 and held for 5 years as a political prisoner during which she was beaten and tortured, all because she was a vocal human rights activist. Her story moved everyone in the room, but what happened next was even more incredible. A Nigerian (I think that's what she said but I'm not sure) woman in the back who had been selling necklaces she makes throughout the CSW conference went up to the front of the room and embraced the Iranian woman for several minutes. As they stood together, it just struck me how universal the struggle for freedom and gender equality really is; here are these two women who likely don't even speak the same language, yet they understand each other at such a core, basic level. It was such a moving moment for me - it reaffirmed everything that I believe about the universality of the struggle for equality.

Today was an absolutely amazing day, as has been my whole week thus far at CSW. I am so excited to see what the next few days have in store, but am sad that I only get a few left. I'll really need to take advantage of the remainder of my time in this wonderful place.


  1. Thanks for describing such a wonderful, memorable moment of unity in diversity between two women who are surely setting good examples in their own cultures every day. We can all aspire to such work together.

    So glad you were able to connect with younger women after your presentation and expand their view. They will remember you! Have a great day.

  2. I knew you would be fantastic! Shaking is simple another action of bravery. That story you told was so beautiful I cried when I read it.

  3. Dana--how wonderful..... I am sure you were fabulous and the two women--heart wrenching,and courageous --I am sure alot of what you hear is emotionally overwhelming--it does remind us of some things we take for granted here--job well done!!