Written by Rajina Shrestha, 2010 Women LEADer and Intern.
The UN Women’s 58th Commission on Status of Women started on 10th of March. Thanks to the Global Fund for Women, I flew in to New York (for the first time!!) on Wednesday and met our wonderful co-founder Claire Charamnac and the sweetest Dipeeka (another Women LEAD participant and also my co-intern in 2011), to attend the NGO parallel events being held alongside the main CSW58.
Held during a stretch of two weeks, these events are mostly panel discussions from amazing women and their organizations around the world talking about a specific issue. Some are documentary screenings and some are the NGO Regional Caucuses about what is happening inside in the main CSW events.
The priority theme of this year’s CSW was Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls and the review theme was Access and participation of women and girls to education, training, science and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. The side events that we attended are opportunities for Member States, UN entities and NGOs to discuss themes of the Commission and other critical gender equality issues.
Until now in the conference, among the various panels we attended, a few have really left me astonished and many times, inspired. After all, it is not everyday you hear sensitive autobiographical stories from stories of women who have faced various kinds of abuse/discrimination and their story of overcoming it.
It was also interesting, to compare the statistics between various participating countries and Nepal. Nepal has 8% girls who graduate high school (12th grade). Pakistan, has less than 25% literate women (here, the speaker noted, literate meant someone who could read and write their name on paper) and less than 15% attending high school. 4% of girls in Nigeria finish secondary school. In terms of VAW, international statistics show one in three women face violence in their life. In East Congo, it was specifically mentioned that 2 out of three women face sexual abuse.
What I loved the most about the conference is the display of all the things that need to be made right in the world and the way the process worked. Researchers gave an alarming fact about the status of the problem with their statistics and other observations. Then people working to address the issues said what measures have been taken; what has worked and what has not. Policy makers and activists work together with government to change what is wrong. Then there is of course, the introduction of things I had never thought about, like how women’s rights and even human rights can be religion and culture specific. Also, how LGBTI as a minority group never get the same support as women’s rights do and how curriculum development plays a vital role in how we are shaping the future generation. How climate change is also a women’s issue in a way. How there are so many things in the world that are still legal and ethically wrong and still illegal in the world but right in it’s own ways.
Then of course, there was my favorite panel – what I always preach to my friends and cousins: pink is the new blue and blue is the new pink! We need no one to tell us what color to choose!