My two week CSW experience is just coming to an end. This has been a great opportunity to witness the nations from across the globe come together around the issue of the status of the half of the world’s population – women.

My first time at this type of meeting, it was very interesting for me to encounter and experience first hand the Churches and religious NGOs participation and input in this process. We worked together, calling for justice by combining spirituality and mammon under the CSW 52 heading “Financing for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.” The experience was very involved and often challenging.

The information and documentation I received as well as the networking, lobbying and worshipping I participated in contributed to my experience. I can say that I participated fully, starting from a very nice Orientation Day organized by Ecumenical Women and finishing with the closure. During the past two weeks, there was so much I missed simply because there was so much happening – caucuses, parallel events, official sessions and meetings!

Prior to arriving in New York, I accepted the invitation to speak at a multi-religious panel entitled “Gender Architecture in our Religions.” Three panelists joined me in sharing we our experiences, perspectives and thoughts on gender from our own Christian and Muslim backgrounds. Every speech was unique and brought many spheres of the life and gender architecture presenting both the positive and the negative constructions within religious institutions. The panel was facilitated by a Jewish woman, who also opened the floor for the questions.

This experience has shown me again how important it is to create a space for collaborative efforts and power to come forth to promote a common issue on the international floor of the United Nations. The challenge and the invitation now remain in continuing the started work — not alone but together in this pluralistic world. Much remains to be done.

Lilit Varzhapetyan
World Student Christian Federation with World Council of Churches

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