Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 2: Monday, March 14th

Today was a fantastic first day of exploring the United Nations and the multitude of events CSW has to offer. I began my day in the UN, in the The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) chamber at a panel event about translating political commitments into effective gender-responsive climate solutions. There were panelists from Morocco, France, Italy and Fiji, as well as representatives from organizations such as the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and the Green Climate Fund. Sitting in the chamber, listening to the multiple implementation strategies of the panelists through the translation tool, I felt like I was a part of something so incredible. I was most moved by the call to action of Noelene Nabulivou, a women's rights activist who focused on the grassroots efforts of women's organizations. She honored the memory of Berta Cáceres, an indigenous environmental activist from Honduras who was recently murdered for her activism and leadership in the women's environmental movement. It was a moving reminder of why we are all here at CSW. There are women all around the world who are being killed just for speaking out...just for using their voice. Noelene described how we are in a moment of complex and linked crises, and with that in mind, it is even more crucial to use our collective power to put pressure on groups like transnational corporations and governments that need greater accountability for their actions and policies. The benefit of having an open forum at the UN to discuss what is being done is that qualified external voices have an opportunity to critique and raise these groups to even higher standards. A question was raised at the end of the session for the two environmental groups (WEDO & Green Climate Fund) about the poor gender equality on their boards. For me, it was a powerful moment of accountability, and translated so perfectly to my research with WomenNC on the impact of women in leadership/decision making roles. 

Following this event, I attended another session on Women in Politics, featuring panelists from Albania, Israel, and Fiji. This event was directly in line with my research topic, and it was fascinating to learn about this issue from an international perspective. At one point, the panelists were asked to discuss barriers to entry for women in the political arena, and it was validating to realize that some of my findings on the issue transcended geographic borders. Like me, the panelists listed traditional gender roles, finances, and visibility as barriers, but also included additional dimensions such as discriminatory party policies as well as the media's role in the over-scrutinization of female candidates. At the end of the session, I had the opportunity to speak with panelist Dr. Jiko Fatafehi Luveni, the Parliament Speaker of Fiji. We had a conversation about how best NGO's could cooperate, both with each other and with the government, to increase the number of women in elected office. Additionally, she noted how the varying political structures of every country led to different implications and strategies needed to navigate and, in some instances, circumvent the structures in place that keep women out of political leadership. 

With Dr. Jiko Fatafehi Luveni, Parliament Speaker of Fiji

The rest of my day included attending events focused on topics such as engaging employers to empower women within the public, private, and philanthropic sectors, and how disaster relief can be better focused on gender-based problems. These events forced me to pull from a great expanse of interdisciplinary knowledge, from my business and supply chain academic background, to my personal background as a child of South Asian immigrants. This kind of learning environment is one that suits me immensely. It allows me to draw connections on a global level from everything I have learned and experienced in my lifetime, which reinforces and secures the knowledge gained in my long term memory. Although, I know for a fact I have nothing to worry about in remembering everything....because this is already an unforgettable experience. 

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