Agreed conclusions at #CSW57 have been reached! We give thanks for the careful discernment and work of everyone involved. #EcuWomenCSW
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.
While most men still wrestle with the concept of gender equality and gender balance, a network of Rwanda “MenEngage” believes that a “new positive masculine identity is needed, one that does not depend on superiority over women.” I am happy to know that men are getting together to form a movement that is fighting the ideas that lead to GBV.
More on creating positive masculinity, The Men’s Story Project is an organization based in California that works with men on break the silence. When I first hear what this woman was doing was quick to judge because it seemed like it was taking the focus away from the reason we were there, VAW not men. However, the more I listened and with the videos of the men telling their stories, I was so glad that someone was working with me. We saw some videos of men telling their stories through poems, songs acts, and this made them talk about things that might have hurt them when they were children, violence that happened to their mothers, something that may still happen to them or things they have done to others due to social, economic class or sexual orientation. This project is a good reminder to society that violence against women (VAW) does not only affect women, but also their children, and those children can grow up to be violent on other women in their lives.
This was an amazing experience for me. I am very grateful to have been part of it, thanks to the LWF Women in Church and Society desk and the Lutheran Office for World Community for giving me this opportunity and thanks to all the women and men who are working hand in hand to end this horrific epidemic. Violence against women should be eradicated, and it will take girls and boys, women and men working together. Let’s all together break the silence, take a step towards education and don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t” because you are a woman. Together we can…
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.
An interview with Sophy Kengoo and Haley Mills, two young adult delegates to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Sophy and Haley discuss their experience at the CSW and the role of dance in their work to eliminate violence against women and girls.
I have been very blessed this year to attend this commission on the Status of women (CSW 57) and the Ecumenical women orientation and events. I am always blown away by the people I meet, the work they do, the energy and the fact that most of the women and men come with a common goal of empowering women. This week, I have attended many great NGOs Parallel events that have been eye opening and hopeful; however there is a still a lot of work to be done in to end gender based violence. I went to so many events that are worth sharing. I will highlight a few which include, ending female genital Mutilation (FGM/FGC), Ending violence against women in Rwanda, and creating positive masculinity (the men’s storytelling project.) This year, the theme is “Ending all Forms of Violence against Women and Girls.” Violence against women is a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights. It cuts lives short, causes women to be silent and leave in tremendous pain and fear everywhere around the world.
This conference brings together women and men from all corners of the world to the United Nations headquarters in New York for two weeks to address and find solutions for issues that affect women. The same time CSW is happening the Ecumenical women join in forces together with CSW. Many issues are discussed in hopes to find solid solutions for them. Some of the topics but to mention a few included, ending early child marriage, violence in widowhood, ending impunity of sexual violence, violence against women living with disabilities, violence against rural and indigenous women, Military sexual violence, elimination of female genital mutilation (FGM), mental health communities, violence against clergies in the church, violence against aging women, gendercide and many others.
It is unfortunate that at least one out three women worldwide have faced violence. Women are here to break the silence and find solutions to end violence against women. This conference serves as a platform for women to break the patriarchal male centered system that is feed by cultural, social and religious practices that exists in most societies.
I attended two separate parallel events that addressed the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM). According to the world health organization (WHO) FGM “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” One event was on Anti-FGM legislature in African and local communities’ reactions sponsored by the women’s front Norway. This organization is working with the Nyaturu tribe in Northern central Tanzania (Singida area) where Ms. Chiku Ali, one of the panelists grew up. Ms. Chiku has been working on this issue for so many years now in Singida. The Nyakuru tribe practices the right of passage which includes, FGM, tooth extraction and cutting a mark on the forehead.
There have been many declarations to barn this practice since 1967. One famous declaration was the “Arusha declaration” this was followed by so many campaign. The idea was good, but the practices did not stop. People especially the elderly, continued the practice silently when the government used force to stop FGM. When children who were not mutilated got sick, the people believed that it was a curse from the ancestors because they are angry at the authority for stopping FGM. Ms.Chiku luckily survived this horrendous practice thanks to her father. A devoted Imam who made “a mistake” (as Ms.Chiku jokingly said) to send his young daughter to boarding school. Young Ali asked her grandmother and mother about this practice and why it was important for her to have it, but their answers did not satisfy her. Ali’s best friend died from an infection cause by FGM. This made Ali so upset that she decided to talk about the issue with her father. Ali did not want to go through what her friend had gone through, and so did her father. And so because her father said didn’t permit it, Ali was safe from FGM .
The second event had powerful speakers whose stories were heart sinking, but yet so hopeful for a future without FGM. For the second event was on FGM / FGC: how to can faith communities help to end it? Sponsored by Mpanzi, 28 Too many, LWF and Tearfund. I will focus on an amazing woman who is a survivor of FGM and how she is using her voice to break the silence against this practice in her native land Kisii, Kenya. Ms. Jackie Ogega is a co-founder of Mpanzi , an organization based in Kenya which works to promote peace and development in rural African communities through education, women’s empowerment, health and livelihoods. Ms. Ogega is also an author of a new book called Pervasive violence, which was launched on March 8, 2013. This book is about her story as a survivor of FGM. In her remarks, she highlighted the dangers of this practice to a girl/woman’s health. She is not afraid to share her story because she knows that it can help other women tell their stories and be part of ending FGM for the generations to come. Ms. Ogega believes that in order to end this vicious practice, we need education. She thanked her mother for giving her opportunity to education, which helped her not to make the same chose for her teenage daughter.
I found her story very inspiring especially because she is not embarrassed to say it happened to her. So many women would have been very uncomfortable to even talk about this matter because it is so personal. Well she is not, in fact she acknowledges that FGM/FGC is part of her “identity but it does not hold her back” and knowing her it definitely does not define who she is either. I think that her story will inspire other women to tell their stories and advocated to end it. As the saying goes, “charity begins at home,” Ms.Ogega has started with her own daughter by not allowing this practice to happen to her.
FCM/FGC continues to be a form of violence against women around the world and it is time that we broke the silence and we need to bring both girls boys to speak about this. I was especially moved by speech of Nora Muturi Ms. Ogega’s daughter who reminded us that this practice is not only in Africa but even here in America and it takes many forms. I thought that you will be happy to know that a resolution to “Ending female genital mutilation” was passed as of 2012 by the UN General Assembly. So yeah to that…We all have a story to tell, don’t let anyone tell your story because you are who you are and your story is unique because.
A Reflection from the End of CSW Week 1 and International Women’s Day, by Haley Mills, from the Student Christian Movement USA and part of the World Student Christian Federation delegation to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women
Friday ended week one of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Appropriately, Friday was also International Women’s Day. A march was held to celebrate this day. Women and men marched bringing human rights theory to life and truths of the power of women to voice. Banners displayed, voices raised, and smiles flashed as rainy snow fell. Simultaneously, in offices and meeting rooms, women and men discussed proposals, language, and strategy. I sat surrounded by smart phones, legal pads, and coffee cups rather than banners, signs, and chants.
I’m willing to admit that I was not sorry to not be in the cold or wet, but I was a little disappointed not to join the visible, palpable camaraderie of so many spirited women and men united to celebrate women. Nevertheless, the work of words comprises an integral component of the CSW. From the words of the resolution (and proposed agreed conclusions) to the words of sacred texts, these writings influence the lives of women across the globe, for better or for worse.
For me, that is why I enter these textual worlds. Diving into the biblical interpretation reveals the work of the Holy Spirit and the ways in which the text as been manipulated. The Bible invites me into the conversation with the God who created this world and the people who have walked with that God. Following the path blazed by of the Communion of Saints requires discernment, humility and community to enter this conversation. Voices from all corners of creation must be joined to see the Spirit working.
In the same way, wrestling with the agreed language cannot be done alone. All voices must be present to ensure the full protection of women and the comprehensive recognition of their rights. I must listen to my sister, whether I fully agree or not. As a Christian delegate, I pray to recognize the liberating work Jesus the Christ at work in the deliberations, discussions, and debriefs continuing to “proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18b-19, NRSV).
An interview with Dr. Valli Batchelor, a World Student Christian Federation/ World Council of Churches delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women and Dustin Wright, a staffer with the Lutheran Office for World Community. Dustin and Valli discuss their experience at the CSW, the role of dance in Valli’s work and the upcoming WCC publication on clergy sexual abuse of women, “When Pastors Prey.”
by Rosemarie Doucette, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women
There was an awesome energy last week at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women! Clearly times are changing for the better as issues of inequality, injustice, and violence were brought to light with grace and power. Women across differences of faith, race, gender identity, ethnicity, and education united in the effort to bring truth and justice to those places where they are most needed. I was very impressed with the progress made in Mauritania in the movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Putting all girls at risk for their physical health, the deeper psychological damage that is done is often harder to assess and there are few resources for addressing it. While this is a harmful practice, it is nonetheless an integral part of the tradition of many cultures so its eradication must be approached with sensitivity and options must be introduced.
I was encouraged by the work of speaker Mariem M’Bareck of Mauritania who has worked extensively with both the religious community and health care providers in order to educate and mobilize people from within their own communities instead of alienating them through a campaign waged from outside of their culture. First Mariem met with a few Imams who established that the Koran does not require FGM of any female, of any age, for any circumstance. The Imams, respected as wise religious leaders, will educate the people in their communities so that over time the misunderstanding that FGM is a requirement of Islam might be corrected. The group of Imams who have made this commitment has grown from two to over two hundred. Health care providers will approach the eradication of FGM from a health standpoint, highlighting the extreme and lifetime health risks involved while teaching women and men that the reasons used to justify it are based on misconceptions, superstitions, and myths.
Another piece of the situation is that the women who perform the cutting will be left without a livelihood. It is important that their financial and social needs be met by the community because they are most often uneducated and this will be a difficult thing to process, that their service to the community will no longer be needed.
Finally, and perhaps the most uplifting and easiest transformation to make following the eradication of FGM will be to provide young girls with new rituals to mark their passage from babies to young girls and from young girls to young women. For thousands of years young the passage of boys to young adulthood has been marked by circumcision, preceded and followed by communal celebrations and privileges. Girls, on the other hand, were more likely to be cut in private and would have to spend even more time in healing. Their passage to womanhood was generally not celebrated in community. In the new light of hope, equality, and human rights, communities where FGM is being eradicated are now replacing this practice with healthy ways of celebrating and marking this life passage, thus ensuring better physical and psychological health, and more social equality.
The last few days have been mainly silent on how the negotiations have been going on attempting to reach agreed conclusions. The last version we have received is number 3 but that was on Tuesday morning (or was it Monday?). We are in a time of waiting, hoping and praying. Praying for positive agreed conclusions to come out of this Commission on the Status of Women.
“If a woman can cook so can a man because she doesn’t cook with her womb.”
“What stuck with me is the report that in Kazakhstan, a man is put in jail for 3 years when he rapes o violates a woman, but put in jail for 11 years when he steals a cow. How cheap women are considered! This has to stop!”
“Forgiveness is not words, it is ACTION!”
“If violence against women were a disease, they would have declared it a pandemic.”
A horrible quote from men in Egypt: “When Christian women and widows go into the square, they are raped. They asked for it.”
Thoughts for the CSW: “It is an enlightening experience, but I would be very grateful to see how Ecumenical Women are taking the raised awareness back home and not just finish at the base. We should consider ‘depth’ in all the work that we are doing.”
The day before attending CSW57, I read a news article that stated in 2012, one South Korean woman was killed by her intimate partner per three days. Around 120 women were killed by their intimate partners in one year.
“男尊女卑 女必從夫” has been the key concept for the gender hierarchy of Korea. The first four letters literarily mean men are higher than women, and second half means women must follow or obey their husbands. I was also a victim of this concept which still is exercised unconsciously among Koreans and the first generation of Korean Americans. I always questioned why men and women are not equal and especially questioned about the unfairness about male dominant society where not only men but also women oppressing other women.
So, for me, the opportunity to be in part of CSW57 is a great opportunity to learn about women’s rights on a global scale. I was very nervous and excited about it. I was able to attend different side events and events that led by the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, and I learned a lot of new things about different cases of violence against women. I was impressed by the quote that “Women’s Rights = Human Rights.” However, I was sad about the fact that we still talk about women’s rights rather than just human rights, in a sense of gender inequality. It is sad that what gender you are born determines whether you have more rights compared to other gender. It is not limited to one particular area in the world, but it was a global problem. Yes, we are all different, yet women were similarly oppressed by the other gender and also by other women.
However, I do not give up there. I believe in unity in diversity yet variety. I know that we need different approaches to different cultures to end the violence against women. However, we are one and in the same purpose, we are united as one during CSW57. We are shouting and acting together with one voice to end the violence against women. CSW57 was the place to gather those voices together, and act together, yet gave us wisdom and knowledge about how to contextualize in each culture to end the violence against women. Thanks be to God about the people that I met during CSW57, the experiences I had, and more importantly thanks be to God that God is working in us, with us and calling us to be God’s people and to look after each other.
On March 6, Presbyterian Women Aotearoa/New Zealand, Interfaith Worker Justice, Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Church (USA) and Young Women’s Leadership Development, PC (USA) co-hosted a parallel event based on Ecumenical Women’s talking points on structural violence against women.
“Women of faith are reinterpreting the traditional understandings of sacred texts of Christianity to challenge violence condoned and promoted within the church. What can we learn from such efforts about confronting all forms of institutional violence?”
Women with a variety of perspectives shared stories of experiencing and overcoming institutional violence in the church, workplace, legal system and educational environments. Attendees were invited to discuss their own stories in small groups and work with presenters to plan action steps to take home.
An interview with Annamaria Notaristefano, a young adult delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. Annamaria discusses her experience at the CSW and the role of dance in their work to eliminate violence against women and girls.