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Raimy Ramirez comes from the Student Christian Movement of Venezuela and is a part of the World Student Christian Federation delegation to the UNCSW57.

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If we are in a crowd and hear a voice that rises above the others, we can think that probably this stronger voice, is a woman´s voice and a Latin American woman´s voice. Our stories, our experiences have made us loud people. We can not afford to speak quietly, because our lives need to be told loudly, because although we do a lot of noise, they are not always heard.

Parallel events of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN, have helped screams emerge not only from South, but also from East, West, North and Center to be heard. We have gathered women around the world in a place where the voice finds an ear to be heard.  However, are those voices shouting stories and demanding justice, getting to where they should be heard? Do these voices have relevance in the discussions that take place within the “solemn” United Nations compound?

Many… have not.

The challenge  is to empower those spaces where decisions are made, where over the needs of women laws are legislated, where few speak and many suffer. For this reason because even the ears of the people who choose not to be open, we have to keep screaming loud and keep in mind the need to keep walking, because although “the pace is slow, is still underway.”

For this, Nelly del Sid, Honduran women shouts loudly for defending their right to build a country without foreign military. Here is why Magda Lopez , colombian, speaks loudly when she speaks in favor of the right of women to participate in the peace process in Colombia. Here is why Cuban women, speak loudly when sharing with the world that their contribution was essential for the eradication of illiteracy in Cuba. Here is why in El Salvador, young women raise their voices in defense of an environmentally just world. This is why women in Venezuela scream in defense of a process that is sustained and will continue because of the hands of  fighter women.  Here is why a small delegation of young women around the world, identified themselves with a label that says “WSCF” are making so much noise!

Rosina Scott-Fyfe is a graduate from Otago University in New Zealand, and part of the Student Christian Movement Aotearoa. She is part of the World Student Christian Federation delegation to the UNCSW57. Written March 11, 2013.

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“When we are aware of our inner resources and use them, they help us to be resilient and assertive. It’s when we disconnect from ourselves and react to the world around us that we can become violent. By involving both men and women in this process real sustainable change can occur” –Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University

 

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17 (NIV)

I begin with these two quotes because they articulate why I am here: to use my faith to take real action; to use my faith to bring about real transformation in the communities I am a part of; to see the connections between myself and others, globally and locally, and to use my own personal voice to advocate for those who have less. To be part of the transformation of attitudes.

Today I attended three parallel events which moved me and connected to my work in different ways. The first, entitled “Both Men and Women using their inner resources to bring change: relearning peace” and run by Brahma Kumaris, reflected on how we need to draw on our own “inner resources”- what some of us might label God, the Spirit- before we can make meaningful change. We had the honour of hearing from four inspirational panelists- Carl Murrel, Denise Scotto, Luis Mora and Gayatri Naraine, who shared with us through story and experience a richness of ideas. What resonated with me was the idea that we need to go beyond engagement and aim for transformation and elevated conciousness of our communities. And as Gayatri expressed, women we have a pivotal role of healing and transformation; although at our core, our soul does not have a gender, we were born into this body and onto this planet and it is up to every one of us to use our power for justice and peace. The most important tool is ourselves.

So what does this look like? What is the physical manifestation of this inspiration? It’s all very well talking about peace but we need to put it into action. What the actions look like will be different and will depend on our cultural context but they need aspects of innovation and creativity. The second event I attended looked at Primary Prevention tools- stopping violence before it happens, and was presented by Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA). A 15 page toolkit created by AWAVA is available free online here. http://www.nrwn.org.au/toolkits/

I like the idea of primary prevention because it is all about changing attitudes, and addresses the underlying causes of violence. It ties in to our desire to belong. If our assumptions are that humans are innately violent, and if this is the way things roll in our communities, this idea is perpetuated through action. And the inverse is true: if we believe that humans are innately peaceful, and this is the belief of our community, this belief will be lived out.

Nothing could be more important in the eliminations and prevention of violence against women and girls than the involvement of men and boys. The third workshop I went to today was so inspirational, and the room was packed. We heard stories from men working with men and boys on attitudinal change to hold the conversations about violence against women. Part of this is just planting the idea. It is about providing a new lens through which to look at these issues, because they are not just women’s issues: they are men’s issues too because while most men are not the perpetrators, most of the perpetrators against women are men, and, as the panelists shared, we cannot tell by looking at a man what his attitude will be. Men are also victims and survivors of this same violence, perpetuated by assumptions about gender. Some of the key messages from this powerful event were that we do not need a society that “protects” women, we need a society that respects women; and that men can be strong without the use of violence. Fathers and positive male rolemodels have a key role through the messages they give their sons. And a quote I found particularly inspiring, from Q Cochlin from Brooklyn’s Connect programme: “In doing this work, I become a human being”.

Within the midst of this presentation, a conflict arose where a member of the audience spoke out about wanting time to ask questions, felt he was being lectured to, and was quite derogatory to the moderators of the event. I greatly admired the way in which the moderators handled the situation- not reacting, which would be the easiest thing to do, but treating the man who offered the comment with respect but also respecting the time and knowledge of the panelist who were there. It was a ‘wow’ moment for me, seeing this man really practice what he was preaching, using non-violence to proactively negotiate a conflict. I think that this is something all of us can learn from.

So in reflection, our attitudes are how we live out our lives. To live our lives truthfully, we need to put into action the values we are promoting: faith and action is inextricably linked. These ideas are not new to any of us, but I think it is worth taking some time to reflect on.

 

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” – Romans 12:2 (KJV)

Major Jessyca Elgart is a Salvation Army delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. She describes her overall experience here at CSW 57 and describes one of the events she attended on human trafficking that most impacted her.

Major Julie Aren is a Salvation Army delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. She describes her overall experience here at CSW 57 and describes one of the events she attended that she found most striking.

 

Stephanie Freeman is young adult delegate with The Salvation Army to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Stephanie describes her experience at CSW 57 as well as some of the things she will be taking away from her time here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted on C of E at the UN Commission on the Status of Women:

IDW March 2013

This will be an International Women’s Day that I will remember for a long time to come. Not just because I shook the hand of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but also because of the sense of a step change in seeing violence against women ended. From the number of faith organizations engaged here at the CSW, which has  increased considerably since 2010, but also the level of welcome that people of faith have received.

My day started with a workshop in conjunction with Terrie Robinson of the Anglican Communion looking at a church response to violence against women. Entitled ‘We Will Speak Out: Churches ending violence against women’ we aimed to communicate what action the global Anglican communion was taking to end violence against women (VAW) and also, more specifically, what the Church of England is doing.

Terrie started out by looking at the Primates letter from the meeting…

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Luwiza Makosa is from the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe and a member of World Student Christian Federation delegation.

 

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Dear all

Greetings to you all. l am a young girl aged 22, l am born and bred  Zimbabwe. l am really honoured to be sharing some of my experiences here at the UNCSW 57th session. l want to also take this opportunity to thank World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) for giving me this opportunity to be part of its 2013 CSW delegation and represent other African young girls.

This session has provided a platform for various organisations to share ideas and strategies which are feeding in to the  2013 UNCSW priority theme.  l strongly believe that the shared information here at the CSW is of value addition to all the work that we are all doing back home. I have been attending worship services every morning and these have reminded me of how women of faith are committed to help the women and girls who are  are being abused in all forms of violence. My opinion from this is that  women’s victory is inevitable. Women are strongly taking up the legacy that women from the the Bible left.

The theme for this year is “Elimination and Prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. Today l was able to attend at least three sessions which were discussing on use of video in video advocacy-strengths and weaknesses, effective ways on ending violence against women and girls and the last session was on the future young women want: putting women’s rights at the heart of the post-2015 Development. However the session which really struck me was that of when l had to meet and discuss with women from various organisations about what young women want to see happening in their countries with priorities and recommendations.

I strongly feel that the media has a played a fundamental role in moulding the society on what they think about gender, hence my contribution from a youth perspective of a woman of faith would be to say that both state and non state actors have a role to play in redefining the gender perspective that has been portrayed by media which has at most seen woman being portrayed as agents of sex.

I am of the opinion that because of this platform on the CSW there are very high chances of creating good synergies with various organisations noting that most of the issues that were raised in the discussion were similar.

I also want to urge everyone that this fight is not solely a women’s issue instead it calls for the attention of everyone. The book of  Esther 4:14 states that, “we will not remain silent at such a time as this……………” so shall we until we have attained our goal.

I also want to urge everyone that this fight is not solely a women’s issue instead it calls for the attention of everyone. The book of  Esther 4:14 states that, “we will not remain silent at such a time as this……………” so shall we until we have attained our goal.

I do believe in the zero tolerance of violence against women and girls.

Ecumenical Women:

A great post from a Church of England delegate to the Commission on the Status of women.

Originally posted on C of E at the UN Commission on the Status of Women:

UN General Assembly

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The day has finally arrived. The opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women officially got underway a little after 10am EST. Ms Marjon Kamara, Chair of the CSW, from Liberia said that ‘expectations were for agreed results that governments can take back to make concrete actions.’ She continued, ‘violence exists in each and every country’ and that we need a ‘solid, practical and convincing outcome’. In the diplomatic language of the UN she made a strong statement that there is ‘one clear message that the current situation on violence against women in unacceptable’. I would probably state it a little less diplomatically than that, rather that it is outrageous and scandalous. With one in four women in the UK suffering abuse in her lifetime, and two women a week being killed by their partner or former partner, it is indeed time for action.

Later…

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In the beginning of November, Ecumenical Women submitted our written joint statement to the UN. The statement allows us to clearly and publicly articulate the specific issues and areas within the priority theme we will focus our advocacy strategy.

Our three main priorities are:
Cultural, structural and economic violence are underlying factors that must be addressed
In order to eliminate violence against women, its root causes must be identified and dealt with. Cultural values are reflected in structural forms of violence, which work to perpetuate economic discrimination against women. Only when we address how these factors interact to create and sustain violence can we hope to change it.

Education is a vital part of the change process, especially societal change. Education must incorporate men and boys alongside women and girls
Education is fundamental in the prevention of violence against women and girls, but access must be improved. Education allows women to know and understand their rights, and promotes understanding throughout society as a whole, including among men and boys. Education helps to empower women as well as develop the skills essential for income-generation.

We must pay particular attention to the needs of rural and minority populations and improve their access to resources and services
The lack of access to resources and services leaves rural and minority populations especially vulnerable to violence of many sorts, including structural violence. All people have the right to access basic services and resources, and programs should be created and supported that promote the well-being of all people.

Check back for an update and the official statement once it is formally accepted and sent to UN Member States!

You may have been disappointed to hear that CSW 56 concluded without agreed conclusions. This is what Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, had to say about this.

http://www.unwomen.org/2012/03/impasse-at-commission-on-status-of-women-deeply-regrettable/

NGO CSW has collected photos from the International Women’s Day March on March 8, 2012 near the UN.  Women were invited to write a cause they are active in on yellow sashes that they wore while marching.

View photos of the march taken by Nancy Eagan here!

Bonnie Fatio of Switzerland, Goodwill Ambassador for the World YWCA, on what she learned about inter-generational work from portraying Naomi in the Biblical story of Ruth for Ecumenical Women morning worship.

Last Friday at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Bread for the World and the Presbyterian Office at the United Nations co-sponsored a side event called 1,000 Days: Improving Nutrition for Rural Women. Other co-sponsors included the Women’s Missionary Society of the AME Church, Franciscans International, the 1,000 Days Partnership, Save the Children, and Family Care International. The effort was coordinated by staff at The Hunger Project. A standing room only crowd of over 100 came out to hear about the importance of maternal and child nutrition in the 1,000 day period between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.

The expert panel was moderated by Mary Ellen McNish, president of The Hunger Project. Lucy Sullivan of the Washington, DC-based 1,000 Days Partnership office shared basic information about how critical it is for women and children to have good nutrition in the 1,000 days period from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.  If malnourished, children can suffer permanent cognitive and physical delays, including shorter height, poor eye sight, diminished intellectual capacity, and weakened immune function.

Isatou Jallow, from the Gender Unit at the World Food Programme framed the issue. It is critical for women, particularly rural women, to have control of land and money because women are responsible for feeding children. And women are more likely than men to invest any profit back into their family.

Carolyn Miles, the first woman to be president and CEO of Save the Children shared about their 2012 Nutrition Report. She highlighted ways in which Save the Children includes nutrition in their programs to address poverty and hunger issues with women and children.

Catherine Bertini, Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University addressed the role of the US government in improving nutrition for women and children. She talked about the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future, the two flagship programs administered by USAID that  address nutrition within the larger context of health and agriculture. She also highlighted the importance of the domestic WIC program, which helps thousand of mothers and young children improve their nutrition.

After the presentations I talked about “1,000 Conversations,” the vehicle that the Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement is using to spread the word about proper nutrition in the 1,000 day window. Women of faith are pledging to have 1,000 conversations in 1,000 days about maternal and child nutrition. It is critical that we spread the word about nutrition and put pressure on our government officials to continue to fund and promote nutrition programs. To learn more about “1,000 Conversations,” visit www.bread.org/go/1000days and “like” www.facebook.com/womenoffaith1000days.

Nancy Neal is associate for denominational women’s organization relations at Bread for the World and a member of the Presbyterian Church delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women.

As we leave New York and the UN, heading for home, let’s be sure to take one another and the joy of worship together at CCUN home with us in our hearts, buoyed by the beat of Caitlin Reilley Beck’s drumming.

Bernice Cosey Pulley speaks about the important part the YWCA played in her life, and invites us to “google” Anne Hutchinson!

CSW58

10 – 21 March 2014

Priority theme:
“Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.”

To read EW's CSW58 Joint Advocacy Statement, click here.

For a calendar of all Ecumenical Women affiliated parallel and side events, click here.

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