Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seeds and Surprises

What a day! I think one of the first things I’ve learned on this sunny, windy day was to celebrate being surprised. We are given a hefty pamphlet of NGO parallel events & governmental events that each has a short title and a sponsoring organization per event. I had carefully chosen out my events and panels with care, dissecting every word in the miniscule title that would lend evidence to whom I would hear and what I would learn. However, I was wonderfully surprised on all three NGO parallel events I attended today! The first was called “Exposing the Doctrine of Discovery: A Call for Healing and Hope” hosted by the Episcopal Church. The panel focused on a formal apology from the Episcopal Church to American Indians killed, mistreated, and displaced during Manifest Destiny. The Doctrine of Discovery was a “dogma that Christian Sovereignty could impose on Indigenous Peoples” that was revoked by the Episcopal Church in order to apologize for the genocide against American Indians. I was shocked by the five speakers who told about their history of abuse, and moved by their stories of healing through the church. We each received three grains of corn from the women as a symbolic gesture towards the essential life each seeds holds, and each seed represented the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” of Christianity. It was a poignant and beautiful way to intertwine faith traditions.

I then went to a panel hosted by PCI-Media Impact that utilized “educational-entertainment” soap operas in Bolivia, and closed with a final NGO parallel event on rural female empowerment in Gambia. Then came one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my life: entering the UN and sitting in on a high-level roundtable discussion! I heard government representatives speak about what their nations were doing to empower rural women from the following nations: Brazil, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Mongolia, Germany, Portugal, Mexico, Egypt, South Africa, Cuba, China, Mozambique, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and the European Union. WOW! Seeing the flags and then hearing the voices behind them was humbling and something I’ll never forget. I’ve been surprised by the incredible array of ages, nationalities, personalities and laughter, and I’m trying to take it all in. I am so joyful and grateful to be in the midst of CSW 56 right now.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I am here (Part 1)...

Hey all! Sorry my blogs aren't going to be as long or grammatically correct as I would like for the first couple days of the. Onference but the Internet at the hotel leaves something to be desired so all of my blogs, Tweets, emails and Facebook status' thus far have come through my iPhone (thank you Wendy and Darrell!!) I want to begin by telling you all why I am here and how I became involved in WomenNC (skip to next blog if you are more interested in the days events). When I was little I always felt that was some something wrong with why all the Disney movies I watched portrayed girls as princesses that always had to be rescued while the boys always got to fight the bad guy and save the day (Hannah's presentation does a great job of explaining this further). Perhaps this is why during some periods of my life I rebelled from these stereotypes and engaged in warrior fights with my brother (sorry mom). This underlying feeling of that I didn't measure up as a girl to my boy counter parts led me to be very confused, insecure and defeated and I thank God and my parents (and my Grandfather and friend Courtney) for bringing horses into my life at age 10 otherwise I think those inssercurities could have manifested in more dangerous ways than wanting to be a cowgirl and handle all the "men's work" on a farm. I was also so fortunate to have so many positive and inspiring female role models from my mom to my horseback riding instructors to my teachers at school to 4-H leaders. I had and still have so many great women friends to lean on and learn from. By the time I went to college I had not forgotten about gender norms but I no longer actively investigated how these issues affected my life because in a small conservative town gender roles were not topics challenged or issues that were approved as appropriate conversation. Things still happened and were said that I wasnt comfortable with - but I had learned that me standing up and saying that I didn't like men calling women "sluts" or objectivifying the women and girls at my school only got me teased and shunned. I mostly found refuge in my church where, even though topics of gender rarely occurred, everyone was loved and respected. When I arrived at NCSU I was passionate only about horses but looking back now I can see my activist longings starting to show and be nurtured through the Universty Scholars Program and learning about cultural diversity around the world but also the discrimination and violence that unfortunately occumpanies diversity too often. At the same time I was becoming more and more stoic and hardened to the way college men especially treated and talked about women as if we were pieces of meat- commodities to be used and then thrown away. I am disgusted to say I tolerated that language happening around me - but the truth is I felt powerless to stop it. (Later I will discuss how these attitudes contribute to a culture that tolerates violence against women and girls). What I did not know at the time is that one in four college women will be raped or attempted raped before she graduates- this isn't information colleges and universities like to share with parents at orientation. I wonder what the reaction would be... Before the end if my sophmore year multiple women I knew had been raped or sexually assaulted. Most by men who they knew - not strangers but "friends" they had made during their time at State - in some cases boyfriends who they had been dating for years. I didnt know what to do with that information. How could this happen? How could this happen to women I knew when society had always told me that if women are careful and took self defense classes that this wouldnt happen to them? How could this happen when we have also been told to beware of the stranger lurking under your car or inthe bushes? How do you protect yourself from these perpetrators when they could be anyone? And how would I ever be able to trust a man again when these women had trusted the men who assaulted them? How could I ever know again who was trustworthy? And most importantly of all why were these women now being blamed for the violence that another person had perpetrated against them (well what was she wearing, was she drinking)? At the same time I began working with CORRAL - a start up nonprofit the identified preteen girls in Wake County and used/s (I work for this organization today) mentoring, tutoring and horses to bring healing and growth to hear hurting girls. Many of these girls had/have been abused already in their short lives. Hearing the stories of these girls enraged me even further and made me determined to find answers to my questions In the process of finding help and answers for these women and girls (and with the help and support of friends) I found some answers through the class and student organization called The Movement at NCSU. To be continued...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Off to the Races!

Hey everyone! We have safely landed in New York City. Checked into our hotel. And are now waiting at the UN building for our passes for the rest of the conference. It is a pretty day and we have already had a wonderful time getting to know everyone better. We've discovered who are morning people and who are night owls and have split up into hotel rooms accordingly. All of the leadership scholars and our wonderful chaperones have such amazing stories and experiences to share. I am going to ask that each of the students write up a short blog tonight about who they are and how they got here because I know that you will enjoy their stories as much as I have! 10:30 AM We're now inside the UN building waiting in line to get our photo IDs. Things are a little crazy and there are tons of(mainly) women who are bustling about and chatting with each other. Just through listening I am learning do much about the women here and where they are from. It sounds like many of them have been here before. This will be interesting getting to know and understand this world. "It is a privilege to live this day and tomorrow.


As we prepare to head off to New York tomorrow, I cannot help but think how grateful I am for all of the experiences that we have already had. I have had the opportunity to learn more about several powerful initiatives that exist within North Carolina. I have explored the global relevance of local challenges. And I have had the opportunity to meet and work with four incredible fellows as well as our supportive mentors who have guided us through the research process.

Last month Anuja and I had the opportunity to interview North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall as part of Anuja’s research on the political participation of women. We wanted to share with you a bit of our experience through this very brief video clip.

Click here to see the video

As I page through the schedule for the week ahead at the Commission on the Status of Women, I am overwhelmed by the opportunities that are to come. I look forward to sharing the experiences of the upcoming week in future posts!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final Countdown...

I just wanted to make the internal countdown that has been filling my mind public: T-minus 7 hours to take off for New York!

Ego Management

This week has been full of awkward talks. These conversations start with "Professor, do you remember how I said I'd be out of town for the midterm? Well, that's next week. So I'll see you after spring break. I'll be a whole new person then, but I'll be sure to re-introduce myself, in case you forgot who I was. I'll bring you some autographs of Lady Gaga or the cast of How I Met Your Mother. Or a foam Statue of Liberty or a T-shirt or something. Also, if you insist, I'll make up that midterm I'm missing. You know, if you have any extras lying around and if I don't have anything better to do. Okay, thanks!"

And as formal and serious as these conversations are, there's just no way to say "I'm going to present my research to the United Nations" in a way that sounds humble. In fact, I've been saying it in front of the mirror just to practice. On a scale of one to Donald Trump, I'd have to say it's still pretty self-congratulatory. "Professor, I am presenting to the UNITED NATIONS the research I've conducted. It's a huge deal, but no need to mention it in front of our 200 person class. Truly. It's going to be fantastic, and I'm a rock star, but let's not get carried away."

New York cliches aside, I am deeply humbled by this opportunity. As Abby would say, it's truly a blessing. Getting to do the research was one thing, getting to go to the UN was another - but the most powerful thing this fellowship has given me is an eye to the future. WomenNC accepted us for what we could contribute, during this time and after our fellowships commence. Moreover, this has been such a dynamic group of women. We're a powerful sisterhood, ladies, and what we do this week is just the start.

The final day is approaching

Being with WomenNC has been a wonderful journey. I learned a lot from my research topic, Agriculture and local farmers. It is such a fascinating topic that i am using it as a base for my thesis in Economics. The Feb 16th event was amazing. A lot of people were able to attend and truly enjoyed our presentation. All of us did a wonderful job. Now we are preparing for the journey ahead which is the United Nations. I am almost done with packing for this trip. However, i have a lot of school work that i am trying to make up for the one week i will be missing. Just wanted to say it is going to be worth it.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

48 Hours to go!

It's pretty surreal that we're only 48 hours out from NYC. I can't believe that we're starting (well, Anuja is already done!) to pack our business slacks, scarves and travel-sized toiletries. Despite an exam, quiz, and lab due tomorrow, I'm dreaming about where I'll be in two days with some incredible WomenNC Fellows. The NGO list was released a few days ago (http://www.ngocsw.org/files/CSW-56-Schedule-Final.pdf) and we're currently scheduling our days full of panels, forums and conversation circles. I get so excited reading over this list, knowing that I am SO unaware of how much CSW 56 will change my life. Stay tuned to this blog over the next few days as Anuja, Becca, Hannah, Mar and I visit the United Nations and attend the Commission on the Status of Women! We only have an inkling of how lives are about to get rocked, but I can assure you that you all will be the first to know!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

MTV Supports Ending Humant Trafficking

MTV has a campaign called MTV EXIT (End Exploitation And Trafficking) in which they are trying to raise awareness and funds to end human trafficking around the world.

To learn more about this campaign and listen to songs and music videos that were developed to raise awareness for this cause go to: