Wednesday, March 13, 2019
My Body Is Not a Democracy
My day started at 1:00 pm today (hallelujah for some extra sleep!) with multiple session about youth, sex, sexuality, body autonomy, and healthy relationships. This afternoon, the first session I attended was Sharing of Best Practices on Social Protection Systems in Southern African Development Community and With a Focus on HIV/AIDS and Women and Girls. Representatives from four Southern African countries were present to report their countries current status on HIV/AIDS and women and girls since CSW 60. According to one representative, every year nearly 7,000 women and girls are infected with HIV in Southern Africa. Many of the people becoming infected are in the 15-24 age range. Cultural and gender norms continue to undermine women’s quest for equality and sexual and reproductive rights. There seems to be a parallel here between the U.S. and Southern Africa. Why must women and girls suffer everywhere!!! The representative for Zimbabwe stated that “the face of HIV is women, but the face of death is men.” He reported that in Zimbabwe, they are working to change the narrative of what it means to be a man (brave, strong, and violent). Moving from the misunderstanding that toxic masculinity and patriarchy should be accepted and tolerated by women and girls to the belief that women and girls deserve equity and more. Say bye bye to mansplaining!!!
The second session I went to was Happy, Healthy, and Safe: Healthy Relationships for Young People I know I said that yesterday’s presentation was my favorite, but this one takes the cake. I never thought that I would come all the way to NGO CSW 63 and hear professionals from the UK and Denmark talk about adolescents being body positive, exploring their sexuality, and having healthy relationships. This session is what every burgeoning teenager and young adult needs to hear. Sex and sexual behavior are seen as taboo, but we all seem to forget that the start of humanity happened because two people did, in fact, have sex (GASP). The panelists spoke about the liberation youth experience receiving adequate and comprehensive sexual education in school and living in a society that is more accepting of sexual liberation and exploration. America needs to take notes from Denmark and the UK! It was also emphasized that women’s bodies can be used as a tool to uphold traditional values that do not favor women’s sexual and reproductive liberation. Overall, this session emphasized that youth have the right to have autonomy over their bodies and relationships. In a world that is evolving faster than we can keep up with, it is important to give capacity, voice, and space to our youth. Investing in their voices is vital to the hope, change, and equity we want for our future.
Today I felt repurposed and inspired that there is hope for women, girls, and our youth!
I am looking forward to tomorrow’s presentations!!!