Women of all backgrounds, nationalities, religions came together again this March at the United Nations in New York City for the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Discussion topics ranged from economic empowerment to achievement in schools, and because American Mothers, Inc. has a seat at the United Nations, we were asked to send delegates to the be a part of the event.
For our delegation of eight women, it was a time to reflect on the plight of women around the world and, again, realize that differences aside, the similarities are more pronounced. We all want good education, clean water and economic opportunities for ourselves and our children. We all want a decrease in violence and an increase in status.
We discussed ways to help women with education and ways to convince them that it could make a difference. We also discussed the importance of expectations. For example, women should expect to be able to run for office, and then they should expect not to be sexually harassed and abused for doing it.
Some of the statistics we heard at the United Nations CSW63 were sad, even angering. There are still women who live in an oppression that makes even going to work to feed their families a danger. Human trafficking is on the rise. Refugees dot the Earth.
Yet, the news was not all bleak.
We were impressed with the passion of the women who attended and spoke, and were heartened to hear that some of them were working to change the culture and goals of women and men, not just institute laws aimed at controlling behaviors.
The side conversations between participants were probably the most valuable. We met a woman who runs cattle farms in Africa, one who spends her days counseling girls on how to “take their space” in the world, and another who started a non-profit to help find children kidnapped in South and Central America – a growing problem.
It was also a great time to remind ourselves that, in the United States at least, we have come a long way.
One panel featured Associated Press journalist, Edith Lederer, who spoke of her 54 year career in the business. When she started, the only women in journalism were daughters of editors and newspaper owners. Working her way up, she has covered wars, famine, political upheaval. She’s worked on every continent except Antartica and has been to war more than a lot of soldiers.
American Mothers delegate Emily Brooks put her thoughts into an article, My Take on the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women. She writes, “What I most took away from my experience is that no matter where we as women come from, we all want the same things. We want our voices to be heard in the decision making of our governments, and we want to have safe living conditions for ourselves and our families. May we keep striving for this until all women have it.”
And as American Mothers delegate Nadine Flyge put it, “The commission made me reflect on the plight that all women face, especially those in developing countries. Then, I remembered one of my favorite quotes from Elenor Roosevelt: ‘Since everybody is an individual, nobody can be you. You are unique. No one can tell you how to use your time. It is yours. Your life is your own. You mold it. You make it.’ All of us as boys, girls, women and men will face plights. But, hope is the key. We can’t ever lose hope, especially in ourselves. So basically, we all have a shot to improve and impact the world.”
The key is that we have to face it together.
Kim Hoey Stevenson is a freelance writer who has written for such media outlets as American Online, Money Talks News, Gannett, Delaware Today, PARADE Magazine and Delaware Beach Life. She traveled extensively both personally and professionally. Most notably, she was in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope to cover the change over from US to United Nations forces. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Kim used her degree in psychology to help co-author the book, “Overcoming Misfortune: Children Who Beat the Odds,” a book that explored the positive side of psychology. Kim was recognized as Delaware’s Young Mother of the Year in 2013.