But Nevertheless She Persisted United Nations Conference on the Status of Women 63
Written by Brittany Beisner
The UN Conference on the Status of Women began in 1946 and since then it has been an integral international platform for governments to discuss women’s empowerment. Every year, for 2 weeks all the Member States of the United Nations discuss international standards on gender equality in New York City. Member State representatives negotiate an outcome document that gives guidance to UN agencies and recommendations to all states on how to move women’s rights forward. The conference this year was March 11-22nd 2019. You can find more information at http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw63-2019
The main themes this year were social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The conference has a plethora of events at all times of the day, occurring at the same hours and in different buildings around the vicinity. One must select a few events each day that they would like to attend.
My name is Brittany Beisner and I am a master’s candidate at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace and Justice. I was able to attend the first week of this conference as a delegate with the Institute of Peace and Justice. I have focused a great deal of my academic career on human trafficking, through papers, research assistant experience and fellowships so I attended many of the human trafficking related discussions. While I cannot adequately describe the impact each discussion had on me, I would like to share a bit of my experience and some of the NGOs and organizations working on these problems around the world. This post is just touching on a few sessions I attended with photos to follow. I wish I could go into detail about each session and the amazing work that so many people are doing in the field of anti-trafficking and gender equality.
I attended the following:
Asset based community development approach to end sex trafficking
Kroc school meeting with women peacemakers
Post trauma healing through art
Preventing vulnerability in human trafficking
Cohesive internation actions in human trafficking
Exploring ‘How’ do we build more gender inclusive and effective peace processes?
Leveraging technology and media to achieve gender gap
Human Trafficking with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Dominican Republic education and women rights
Girls excluded: body confidence and tools for action
Here are a few highlights:
Ruchira Gupta with Apne Aap Women Worldwide stated that the children of prostitutes are not allowed to go to school. Now they have helped to educate over 3,000 children. Apne Aap means self-action in Hindi meaning that the women were involved in every piece of the process. Through their asset-based community development approach, they meet the women where they were living, educate them on their rights and support them as they navigated the criminal justice system. The 10 step approach: 1. Safe space 2. Education 3. Self-esteem 4. Political knowledge 5. Government ID 6. Linking to government welfare 7. Bank accounts/loans 8. Small business or income 9.legal knowledge 10. Circle of at least 9 friends that could show up. With this approach they are left with 4 brothels out of the 72 in the area they started working in. http://apneaap.org/
Shiloh McCloud with MUSEA: Intentional Creativity Foundation https://www.intentionalcreativityfoundation.org/ spoke about transforming the impacts of trauma through storytelling and creativity. She brought in Native Americans with Shakti Rising and Native Hope who also told their stories of healing through the creative arts. The Native American people are the one’s fighting and dying for the environment. It is true they are responsible for saving most of our current biodiversity. You can help sign a petition to Protect Oak Flats here: http://apache-stronghold.com/ Another way to get involved is by uploading a 30-60 second video sharing what inspires you, what drives you, why you think storytelling is powerful, and what your hope is for Native people. Then tag Native Hope #StorytellingHeals
The Kroc IPJ along with Women Waging Peace, ICAN and WASI had three women discuss how we can ensure women are meaningfully included in the peace process. Studies show that women’s participation in peace negotiations increases the durability and the quality of peace (http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security/facts-and-figures).
Stella Sabiti, founder of the Center for Conflict Resolution, Mariam Yazdani, senior advisor at Viva Rio and Fatima Al Bahadly, director of Al Firdaws Society shared their stories. Each brought powerful and unique perspectives on how they were able to effectively include women in peace talks in Uganda, Haiti and Iraq. Three vastly different culture all benefiting from the inclusion of women. https://twitter.com/womenpeacemaker?lang=en
It was a wonderful experience to explore the United Nations, walk around with so many people from different countries wearing traditional clothing and fighting for women’s rights. It is truly inspiring to sit in the room with people such as Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate, who led the women’s nonviolent peace movement that helped end the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. In light of my gratitude and privilege of being able to attend, I must also share that many women expressed disappointment that many other women had their visas denied due to Trumps travel ban. It was actually brought up to Antonio Guterres at the welcoming ceremony and I also saw them leave an empty seat with a name tag and a sign saying visa denied on a panel. https://thehill.com/policy/international/435126-us-denied-visas-to-international-women-trying-to-participate-in-un?fbclid=IwAR2QnuK6YLY_DEusKHOYDavVGJM9WphMjHATcjeoa_46I9xfQtEJ4054bKA
Sexual exploitation brings in 99 billion dollars globally. It was wonderful seeing so many different perspective and ideas from various countries.
Quick mention of other noteworthy organizations to explore.
A Call to Men http://www.acalltomen.org/
Equality Now https://www.equalitynow.org/
The Hunting Ground documentary http://thehuntinggroundfilm.com/
Love Sonia documentary https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/love_sonia
Know Your 9 https://www.knowyourix.org/
Change the Talk https://www.changethetalk.org/
Global GLOW and HerStory https://www.facebook.com/globalgirlsglow/
I invite you to take a look at this link in order to experience a few journeys: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/3/feature-story-mental-health-care. When survivors have access to psychological services and support, they have the opportunity to heal. We thus encourage everyone to share their stories and inspire others to seek help and support, granting further stories to continue the healing cycle.