CSW 59, Beijing+20 is now in its third day. It was preceded with the NGOCSW Consultation Day at the Apollo Theater, NY on Sunday March 8th which was International Women’s Day. Maureen McGowan, Andrew Boyle, (Handcrafting Justice) Sarah Benson (Ruhama) Nancy Fritche Egan and myself attended the day and march.
The opening event included songs from Mexico (1975), Denmark (1980), Kenya (1985), and China (1995) – the venues of the 4 World Conference on Women. The songs gave way to readings from the UN Conferences by Mahnaz Afkhami, former Minister of Women’s Affairs of Iran and President/CEO of Women’s Learning Partnership, H. E. Ambassador Ib Peterson from Denmark, Sheila Katzman, Chair of the Cities for CEDAW/New York City, and Tanya Selvaratnam, Producer/Artist and author of “The Big Lie”.
Each world conference contributed significantly to the ongoing struggle for gender equality and women’s and girls’ human rights. A slogan I hear repeated often is ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights.’ Personally, I immediately include ‘GIRLS’. The girls of today are the women of tomorrow. The focus in 1975 (Mexico) was on Gender Equality and an International year of Women, 1980 (Copenhagen) Women Peace and Security, 1990 (Nairobi) Sexual and reproductive rights and 1995 delivered the Beijing Declaration and platform for Action, a framework that is as relevant today as when drafted with new realities presenting new challenges.
The keynote address was delivered by Ruchira Gupta, Women of Distinction Awardee and founder of Apne Aap. She issued a very strong call to have a world where the dignity of the last girl is upheld and envisioning a world where girls and women cannot be bought and sold. A quote ‘If we normalize the exploitation of some women we normalize the exploitation of all.’
Dr. Gertrude Mongella – “educator, politician, diplomat activist”, former Under-Secretary General, UN Fourth World Conference on Women address the gathering on what Beijing Plus 20 must achieve.
The afternoon panel presented the perspectives of young activists. This was a superb panel – Emilia Reyes –Equidad de Genero: Esther Kimani – Young Women’s Leadership Institute Nairobi Diana Mao – NOMI Network; Geraldo Porteny Backal – Young Men for Gender Equality; – Faith Nenkai Metiaki – Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Forum des educatrices africaines. The Discussant was Thayvie Sinn – Save Cambodia. The panel was excellently moderated by Fabio Palacio – International Movement ATD 4th World.
The day ended with joining the women’s march for International Women’s Day. Thanks to my Loretto friends for the photographs.