Sunday, March 12, 2017

Songs, Poems, Speakers, and Panels: Consultation Day

I was so excited to begin this experience with today’s NGO CSW 61 Forum: Consultation Day from 9 until 3:30 p.m. titled “Women’s Rights and Gender Equity in the Changing World of Work.” Ivy Gabbert from Soka Gakkai International and Bette Levy from Soroptimist International facilitated the program. First, the United Nations Singers gave an incredible performance. Then, the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, started us off with remarks on this year’s theme, economic empowerment in the changing world of work. It was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka who said “it is not enough to do no harm. You need to do something about the harm.” And this summed up one of my strongest feelings about anti-oppression work and the fight for global justice. Actively perpetuating oppression and violence, remaining ignorant about oppression and violence, or simply identifying oppression and violence will not create change. There needs to be active resistance and advocacy to end oppression and violence and I believe the majority of the people at this event are here to find out how they can continue their efforts to make these changes.
I was happy to hear panelists and speakers acknowledge the connection between economic empowerment and domestic violence, as this is something I am particularly passionate about. Violence affects women and people of all gender identities at home, in public spaces, in the workplace, and wherever they go. We live in a world that allows for gender-based violence all over the world, causing serious damage, health care costs, and economic losses. Dr. Mabel Bianco, this year’s Women of Distinction awardee and medical doctor from Argentina, called for an end to the murder of women who defend their rights and emphasized the need for comprehensive sex education. Dr. Susan O’Malley, the chair of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women condemned the recent executive orders, rooted in nationalism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and fundamentalism, that banned people from coming to the United States.
I love what Dr. Radhika Balakrishnan, the faculty director for the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, said about economic justice. She critiqued neoliberal economic policy and the financialization of the economy. While proponents of neoliberalism promote the idea of deregulation, neoliberal policy generally re-regulates the economy, simply for the benefit of corporate interests. As an example, General Motors made more money loaning people money for cars than actually selling cars. She brought up the Oxfam statistic that the most recent analysis shows 8 people in the world own the same amount of wealth as half of the world. This is absolutely unacceptable and dangerous. With extreme economic injustice, she stressed that we must reconsider what the economy is for and we need to critique the field of economics. Economics as a field is not only dominated by men, but even some of the women economists are not feminist economists. Economic justice relates to immigration, climate change, violence, and every other intersecting issue. For example, she pointed out that migration increased because of the disruption caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement. We must build a world in which our economy honors our human rights.
Lastly, I must gush about how amazing it was to see Rupi Kaur perform her poems in person. I have been a huge fan of hers ever since I saw her Instagram post of a photo of herself with a period stain. She is a fierce feminist activist who incorporates principles of justice into everything she does. She began tearing down the stigma of menstruation with her photo and with her poems she tears down patriarchy, xenophobia, racism, body-shaming, competition among women, and so much else that is dangerous. I have her poems taped up in my room for daily inspiration and it was incredible to hear her read some of those poems out loud. The day ended with a performance from the Harlem Diva, LeeOlive Tucker who brought me to tears with her captivating voice passionately singing “I Wish I knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest,” and “Keep on Movin.”

This photo is from the breakout session I went to on gender violence at home and in the workplace which included Raphael Crowe, senior gender specialist at the International Labour Organization, and Dilshad Dayani, founder of World Women Global Council. I was overwhelmed with information, thoughts, ideas, connections, inspiration...all in the best way possible. I cannot wait for what’s to come tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Great observation Lauren! Can you send me the afternoon poems or the link to the performance? Looking forward to your other posts.