600425_513983548640429_669317768_nWith the opening of the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women only a few days away, Ecumenical Women is sharing stories written by US National Council of Churches/ Church Women United delegates to last year’s CSW. Today’s piece comes from a young adult educator named Heather Dean. Be sure to check our website frequently as we post additional inspiring stories and prepare for EW’s CSW Orientation this Saturday.

Thank you so much for your support of the Church Women United/National Council of Churches Delegation to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women. It was a life-changing experience that I continue to take with me and share with those in my community. My eyes have been opened to all of the ways violence manifests itself against women throughout our world, from domestic violence in the home, to how women and children are impacted disproportionately in conflict regions. Violence to me now also includes the structural inequalities which violently impact women such as the difficulties women face when striving for an education. Though I learned many alarming facts about the state of women’s rights and safety in the world, I also was empowered by hearing the stories of how so many are working against violence. The solutions are as diverse as the problems, but over and over again education rose to the top as an essential tool to combat violence. Coming in, I may have conceived of education as a teacher at the head of a classroom in front of young students. However, my experience at CSW has taught me that often education can come in the form of conversations with friends bringing stories out of the shadows, or even compelling soap operas that spark conversations about violence in the community.

After discussing the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with fellow young delegates in a contextualized bible study, I will remember to not stay silent, especially about the violence I witness, and I would urge you to do the same. Rather than coming out of the CSW experience disheartened about the violence that occurs in the war on women in each country of the world, I feel empowered by the stories and energy shared by my fellow participants. Worshiping with women from all corners of the globe formed a symbolic sisterhood for me that I have taken home, along with many new friends as well. I am so thankful to have been able to meet the members of my delegation as well as our mentors, without whom the experience would have had much less laughter and many more tears. I will be eternally grateful for this experience and hope to be able to travel back in future years.

Heather Dean