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qEesBswvyF70LM_ndDRyxELVCGw4e5ImVIsD5Dh-qRk,IPOx3XROmGnbZS8HNJf8adTTxqs_aR6hO7iDXwerzmUWhat follows is a piece written by Kirsten, a young adult delegate from EW member organization the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to CSW58. For more reflections of the ELCA young adult delegation, check out their blog.

I am always moved by what a group of motivated young people can accomplish in just a few short days.

Roughly a dozen young adults from various corners of the US were called together to observe, listen, discuss and contribute to the United Nation’s 58th Commission on the Status of Women. Each of us arrived with diverse perspectives and a different lens through which we view the world, as well as the issues at hand. What resulted in our time together was a mass of ideas, inspirations and challenges.

I observed what you might suspect. Though we are all called to a common goal of fighting for gender justice, the roads to that goal are long, divergent and winding. We heard impassioned and heartbreaking stories affecting women and girls all over the globe regarding violence, maternal & infant mortality, the fight for education, systemic hunger, poverty and disease. The list goes on and on. These issues are heavy and convoluted, not to mention mired in cultural and often religious traditions.

One of the panel discussions I attended (accidentally, I will admit) asked questions that especially resonated with me. Are we trying to change the world at large, or are we trying to change one person at a time? And how do we go about enacting change, either at an individual or a program level? Changing individuals can be accomplished through training, workshops and increasing the number of women willing to work in and through institutions. Changing perspectives on how to design and implement programs are the seedlings of cultural change.

What happens when we start chipping away at the gender gap? Access to resources as well as food production increases. Hunger, disease and infant mortality all decrease. The relationship between men and women becomes more mutual and respectful. Violence decreases. Human rights are valued.

During our time there, I heard a wonderful example of how powerful a movement can be. Picture yourself in a large auditorium filled with people in their seats. One individual gets up and starts dancing. People think to themselves, “What’s that crazy person doing dancing like that?” Then another person gets up to dance. Then another. And another. Soon the whole group is dancing, with the exception of a few individuals. Now, they are the crazy ones.

So why not start or join a movement? Or many movements? Let us begin reducing the gender gap by getting involved: as individuals, as groups, as cultures.

I ask you to engage this cohort to see what we learned and what actions we are planning to take now that we are home. I assure you, there are many. Ask what groups/programs we encountered; which ones are enacting change and which ones are not. This group of young adults all arrived with diverse perspectives. We left with even more, and I dare say that our lenses through which we see the world are a slightly different hue. I can say with absolute certainty, however, that we are all ready to dance.

-Kirsten

An interview with Maria Cristina Rendon, Program Assistant in the Lutheran World Federation’s Department for Theology and Public Witness and Reverend Elitha Moyo, Coordinator of the Gender Justice Project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe. Elita and Cristina, both who are also Ecumenical Women delegates to the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women, discuss how CSW relates to their gender justice work on both the international and grassroots levels.

An interview with Keti Zazanashvili, a young adult delegates to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women.  Keti discusses her experience at CSW57 and the role of dance in her work to eliminate violence against women and girls.

 

 


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.”

HBphotoby Hayley Bang, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in American delegate to the 57th Commission on the Status of Women

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.

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