Once again we were blessed this morning with a worship service that seemed to perfectly restore and replenish our spirits. Yesterday, the children’s choir of The Salvation Army was unable to make it to our worship because of a traffic hold up. Last night they stayed in a hostel near the United Nations so they would be sure to worship with us this morning. So much the luckier are all of us, because surely we were all in need of the blessing of energy today, in particular, as we received word late last night that Ecumenical Women were chosen to be part of an interactive expert panel at the UN on “the gender perspectives of the financial crisis.” The leaders of our advocacy teams were up late into the night tightening and refining our contributions to the agreed conclusions. Gulping down coffee, I made it into the worship service as the children were finishing their first song. Luckily, Rev. Stone called the children back to wild applause from the packed pews. The children launched into a fierce, beautiful song called I am a friend of God. Quickly, we all were on our feet, waving our hands in the air and feeling the tremendous blessing of being able to gather together every morning, sing, dance, march, and, today, join voices with joyous children.
Later in the afternoon, before going into the Anglican Consultative Council panel Empowering the Girl Child I tried to remember the energy of our children as my own energy was flagging. In 2007 the focus of the 51st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women was on ending all forms of discrimination and violence against girls. Therefore, the focus of this important panel was on giving girls from across the globe a space to talk about the progress and challenges they have experienced in the two years since the Agreed Conclusions on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and Violence Against Girls. The panel started with members of the Anglican Consultative Council calling on all the girls in the room to introduce themselves to all of us. As these girls were introducing themselves I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like today if I had had the opportunity to involve myself in the pursuit of women’s rights at the UN. Indeed, all the girl panelists affirmed their desire to be involved in our processes. As church women we can stand to learn much from listening to our children’s experiences as child soldiers and as survivors of gender based violence across the globe. After the girl panelists spoke, members from the Working Group on Girls facilitated a powerful discussion about practical ways we can engage with girls and integrate inter-generational conversation into our communities. One easy way to start this process is to visit the Working Group on Girls website. You can find a toolkit for introducing the 51st CSW Agreed Conclusions to small groups of girls with girl friendly language, including sets of Indicators on the issues of Health and Poverty.
Throughout the course of my first week here at my first CSW I have heard strong, smart women advocate for the involvement of women on all levels of policy-making. Surely, it is just important for women advocates here to provide space for the voice of girls as we move forward in our pursuit of gender equality.