by Malte Lei

The CSW – the Commission on the Status of Women – is an annual event.  Hundreds of women from all around the world come together in New York  in February in order to advocate for the rights of women  and girls.  These women come from all backgrounds – they are professors, teachers, social workers, economists, pastors, students, or mothers. They know what’s really going on in their communities, and are well aware of the needs of the people, probably more than the average government official in the UN system. To help the UN to hear the very needs of women and men, boys and girls “on the ground”, and to incorporate these needs into a strong statement – the Agreed Conclusion – is a main goal of the participation of women during CSW and the reason why they are invited by Ecumenical Women.
Lali Shengelia (right)

Lali Shengelia (right)

But when the CSW is over, the work continues. What happens after the sessions of CSW? Does the CSW and the Agreed Conclusion actually influence the work of those who participate?

Lali Shengelia, founder of Women’s Organization of Lagodekhi Region in Georgia, and participant at CSW 53, writes

“When I came back home I was traveling in the different regions of Georgia, met with women’s groups and simple women. I have spoken with them about the 53rd session, gave them the Agreed Conclusions, recommendations, and other materials which I received in New York. We used these documents to discuss about different ways of our work.

My visit in New York was very important for me because as an organization working in rural regions like our region, we normally do not have the possibility to visit important events and forums not only international but sometimes in the capital too. As a result we have shortage of information, skills and can not act more intensively and with the best effect.”

Promoting the ecumenical movement is another integral part of Ecumenical Women’s work throughout the year and during CSW. In many parts of the world the idea of ecumenism is strong. The churches understand themselves as being ecumenical and people of faith know how important it is to work together as men and women of faith in order to confront the challenges in society. In other regions, tensions against ecumenism persist. Lali writes,

“Very interesting and new to me was the ecumenical movement. I spoke about it with my colleagues; we discussed and tried to realize all aspects of such work. I decided to create an ecumenical women’s movement at first in my region, than (I hope!) to spread it over the whole Georgia. As the first step we decided to organize a summer camp for young women and teenage-girls with different religious views and to work together with young women on their problems. Now we are searching for funds (about 15.000USD) to realize this project. We have many other plans, too.”

Obviously, Ecumenical Women is more than advocating during CSW, once a year in February.